• Sophie Tucker -- Last of the Red Hot Mamas -- Photograph, Guild Application

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    SOPHIE TUCKER (January 13, 1884-February 9, 1966) was a famous singer, comedian and actress. Born Sonia Kalish to a Jewish family in Tsarist Russia. Her family emigrated to the U.S. and lived in Hartford, Connecticut.

    Her family changed its name to Abuza. She started her career by singing for tips in the family restaurant and in 1903, at age 19, married Louis Tuck. At that time, she decided to change her name to Tucker. She married twice more.

    Tucker played piano and sang burlesque and vaudeville tunes, at first in black face. She later said this was at the insistence of theater managers who said she was too heavy to be accepted in any other context. She performed African American influenced songs. She hired some of the best African American singers of the time to give her lessons and hired African American composers to write songs for her act.

    In the 1930s, Tucker brought elements of nostalgia. She was called “The last of the Red Hot Mamas” as her hearty sexual appetite was a frequent subject of her songs, unusual for female performers of the era.

    Tucker's comic style is credited with influencing later female entertainers, including Mae West, Joan River, Roseanne Barr and Bette Midler, who has included “Soph” as one of her many stage characters. Her quick and witty lines continue to influence drag performances in the gay community. In addition to her performing, Tucker was active in efforts to unionize professional actors, and was elected president of the American Federation of Actors in 1938.

    Offered here is her autographed application, dated March 15, 1939, for the Catholic Actors Guild, 5 ½” x 3 ¼”. The back of the card reads in part that “The Catholic Actors Guild of America was founded in 1914 to promote the best interests of the stage and its people; to assist the members of the profession in a dignified manner…” On the front of the card she is described as a “Manhattan” entertainer. Also included is an inscribed postcard photograph “to Dawn Marie Slawter Love Sophie Tucker 1957.” Two autographs and addressed in her holograph on the verso. Wonderful for framing.

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