Sophie Tucker, born Sophie Kalish, was a singer, vaudeville performer, and screen actor. She was born in Tsarist, Russia, and emigrated to the United States with her family when she was an infant. Tucker got her start singing in her family’s kosher diners and boarding houses. She then moved on to playing piano and singing burlesque and vaudeville songs. In the beginning of her career, she performed donning blackface makeup and singing songs by African American musicians or influenced by African American culture. Some say that Tucker was required to wear the makeup by stage managers who believed that because she was a heavy set woman, the only way she would be accepted by audiences would be in blackface. But, Tucker later performed without the makeup and her performances were successful. She did, however, continue to work with black performers, musicians, and songwriters. Tucker had a long career that included solo and group performances with the Ziegfield Follies, in Broadway shows, and in Hollywood films. Some of her well known songs include, “A Good Man is Hard to Find,” “My Yiddishe Momme,” and “Some of these Days.” She spent periods of time in Miami, with her son who managed a hotel in Miami Beach. She also performed at the Colonial Inn, the Beachcomber, Jack Dempsey’s Bar, and the Latin Quarter.
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