Feura Bush Resident, a Distant Cousin of Superstar, to Introduce the Movie
Sophie Tucker was “The Last of the Red Hot Mamas,” close friends with seven U.S. presidents, King George VI, young Queen Elizabeth, J. Edgar Hoover, Al Capone and every other notable of her era.
And on Saturday, February 27, moviegoers will learn all about the iconic superstar and her connection to the Capital Region.
B’nai Sholom Reform Congregation in Albany will present a screening of “The Outrageous Sophie Tucker,” the rags-to-riches story of one of old-time showbiz’s biggest personalities.
The documentary will be shown at 7:30 p.m. at B’nai Sholom, 420 Whitehall Road, Albany, New York. Refreshments will be available. Suggested contribution: $5.
Dawn Wallant, who lives in Feura Bush and is a distant cousin of Tucker’s, will introduce the film with personal memories and correspondence from the star. Dr. Nancy Newman, chair of the Department of Music and Theatre at the University at Albany and a B’nai Sholom congregant, will talk about Tucker’s music and lead a discussion after the film.
Tucker ruled the worlds of vaudeville, Broadway, radio, television and Hollywood throughout much of the 20th century. Before Beyoncé, Lady Gaga, Madonna, Bette Midler, Marilyn Monroe and Mae West, Tucker was the first woman to infatuate her audiences with a bold, bawdy and brassy style unlike any other.
Tucker tried to get her story made into a movie for nine years, without success. Undaunted, she hired half a dozen screenwriters, but still had no takers for her no-holds-barred saga. Using all of Tucker’s 400-plus recently rediscovered personal scrapbooks, producers Susan and Lloyd Ecker take viewers on their seven-year journey retracing Tucker’s 60-year career in show business.
Directed by William Gazecki and released in 2015, “The Outrageous Sophie Tucker” includes many delicious bits of show business dirt, intrigue, arrests, romance, murder, gangsters and scandals. The 96-minute film features Barbara Walters, Tony Bennett, Carol Channing, Michael Feinstein, Shecky Greene and more, with additional narration by David Hyde Pierce.
Wallant was a young child, around 5 or 6 years old, when she met Tucker. A cousin of Wallant’s grandfather, Tucker was a “larger than life” presence in Wallant’s family, and Wallant remembers her parents always speaking proudly of Tucker. Wallant treasures a photo of herself sitting on her mother Virginia Kaufman’s lap while seated next to Tucker.
“Sophie was warm, funny, very grand and ahead of her time. My parents were very proud that she was in our family, and I was in awe of this famous person related to my father,” said Wallant.
Newman specializes in European and American musical practices since 1800, with an emphasis on the relationship between art music and popular culture. Her book, Good Music for a Free People: The Germania Musical Society in Nineteenth-Century America, was published in 2010. In 2014, Newman delivered a talk on the Germanians’ piano sheet music at the Library of Congress’ historic Coolidge Auditorium (co-sponsored by the American Musicological Society). Newman has received fellowships and awards for her research from the American Musicological Society, American Antiquarian Society, Music Library Association, AMSNew England and John Nicholas Brown Center at Brown University.
Founded in 1971, B’nai Sholom Reform Congregation in Albany is a home for contemporary Reform Judaism in the Capital Region, creating a vibrant Jewish present that links ancient traditions with the promise of the future. Nearly 130 diverse households from eight counties seek religious, educational and social fulfillment at B’nai Sholom. For information about B’nai Sholom and the benefits of belonging, visit www.bnaisholomalbany.org or contact the B’nai Sholom office at 518-482-5283 or firstname.lastname@example.org.