Sophie Tucker: First Lady of Show Business

by Armond Fields

McFarland & Company

2003, ISBN #0-7864-1577-0


Although Sophie Tucker was a fixture in American (and English) entertainment for more than 60 years, and one of the few names from the golden age of show biz that still prompts recognition, this is the first detailed biography of Sophie, the self-styled Last of the Red Hot Mamas.

Armond Fields has built a justified reputation for detailed research and literate presentation in a series of books about theatre and its luminaries, including Lew Fields (of Weber & Fields, and Armond’s great uncle), Lillian Russell, Eddie Foy, Fred Stone (of Montgomery & Stone) and James J. Corbett, prizefighter and entertainer.

In this book, his account is both meticulous and affectionate, as he traces Sophie Tucker’s journey from her family’s arrival in the USA, work in her parent’s Hartford, Connecticut restaurant, an early marriage that produced her only child through her determination to rise above her first show biz jobs as a blackface singer of ‘coon songs’ in beer halls, variety and burlesque to her headliner status in vaudeville and nightclubs.

Her triumphs and good works, both numerous, are sympathetically spotlighted by Mr. Fields, and if Sophie’s fallibilities are explored less, Mr. Fields does not ignore them. His record is as complete as we could want: the most reliable source of information for those who wish to investigate her life, and a valentine that will be greatly appreciated by those who recall her performances with joy and were befriended by Sophie Tucker.


~frank cullen~


American Vaudeville Museum

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