In 1931 Ruth Etting appeared in the very last Follies, which opened at the Ziegfeld Theater on July 1, 1931, and ran through November 21 before heading out on tour, for a total of 164 performances on Broadway.
Ruth Etting revived a song Nora Bayes made famous in The Follies of 1918, Shine On, Harvest Moon. It became one of her biggest hits, and is so closely associated with Ruth Etting, that her recording is considered the definitive version of this standard. In fact, she ended up recording the song again for the film, California Weather in 1933. She also sang another standard, You Made Me Love You and while dressed as a Cigarette Girl, sang Cigarettes, Cigars.
“The Etting-Ziegfeld collaboration ran its course with the Follies of 1931, staged shortly before the great producers death, and featuring Etting’s stunning performances of Shine On, Harvest Moon, the Nora Bayes hit of some two decades earlier.” — Let Me Call You Sweetheart, Take Two Records, 1987
The 1931 Follies also starred another very well-known torch singer – Helen Morgan, who sang Noel Coward’s Half-Caste Woman.
Ruth Etting is often called the Queen of the Torch singers, but both Etting and Morgan were considered the top torch singers in their day. Morgan originated the role of Julie La Verne in the original production of Florenz Ziegfeld and Jerome Kern’s Show Boat in 1927, and recorded many of the same songs as Etting, including Mean To Me and Body And Soul. Only Fanny Brice came close in popularity. Brice had introduced a French torch song, My Man, in the 1921 edition of the Follies, and is largely credited with bringing the torch song to America.
Since the torch song was brought to America by the Ziegfeld Follies, it seems only fitting that the two top torch singers, Etting and Morgan, starred together in the very last Follies. They were joined by Jack Pearl, Harry Richmond, Gladys Glad, Dorothy Dell, and tap dancers Hal LeRoy and Mitzi Mayfair. The chorus of dancers, singers, and specialty performers was huge – perhaps the largest cast for any of the Follies. Ziegfeld went out with a bang!
Ziegfeld Follies, 1931
Ziegfeld Follies, 1931
Ziegfeld Theater, 6th Avenue at 54th Street, New York, NY.
Opened July 1, 1931, ran for 164 performances
Produced by Florenz Ziegfeld, Jr.
Directed by Edward C. Lilley
Musical Director: Oscar Bradley
Music orchestrated by Maurice De Packh, Will Vodery, Howard Jackson and Joe Jordan
Staged by Florenz Ziegfeld, Jr. and Gene Buck
Dialogue staged by Edward Clarke Lilley
Dances staged by Bobby Connolly and Albertina Rasch
Scenic Design by Joseph Urban
Costume Design by John Harkrider
Albertina Rasch Dancers
Anne Lee Patterson
Buck & Bubbles
Hal Le Roy
John Daly Murphy
John W. Bubbles
Mary Alice Rice
Milton Le Roy
The Collette Sisters
Gladys Glad, Jack Pearl, Ruth Etting, Helen Morgan, Harry Richman and Dorothy Dell.
More Promotional Photos from the Ziegfeld Follies or 1931
Ruth Etting Promo Photo
The Albertina Rasch Dancers in the Ziegfeld Follies of 1931.
Florenz Ziegfeld posing with the Follies Girls at a rehearsal in 1931.