The content of this Big Little Book® was based upon several Eddie Cantor one-hour radio programs. The photographs are stills from some of his United Artists films: Whoopee! (1930), Palmy Days (1931), Roman Scandals (1933).
Cantor was born on January 31, 1892, and his given name was Edward Iskowitz. He was orphaned at age two and raised by his grandmother on New Yorks Lower East Side. From early childhood he danced, pranced, sang for coins on street corners, and became adept at mimicking. When he dropped out of elementary school, he could not hold a steady job because he was always clowning around.
After he won an amateur night contest, he toured with various theater companies including Ziegfelds Follies. Eventually he acted in Broadway reviews and worked his way to stardom. He starred in Kid Boots from 1923 to 1926.
After becoming one of the great Broadway stars of the 20s, Chase and Sanborn signed him for a Sunday night radio show. It began in September of 1931.
Because of his stage experience, Cantor felt more comfortable if he had a studio audience. He was the first radio performer to insist on a live radio audience so it could laugh and applaud throughout the program. To listeners this made his program seem livelier than other programs. While on the air, Cantor would clown around, roll his eyes, and do many visual behaviors that brought laughter from the studio audience. The listening audience sometimes wondered what was going on.
Cantors radio humor was low-brow, but he wove ideas of patriotism and personal values into the scripts. This appealed to his listening audience. In the 30s, the Chase and Sanborn Eddie Cantor Show was the biggest blockbuster on radio.
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