Who Started the Follies

Who Started the Follies

Discover the origins of the Follies and unravel the mystery of who truly started it all. Dive into the early influences, the rise of Florenz Ziegfeld, and the spectacular debut of the Ziegfeld Follies. Explore the controversies and scandals that surrounded this iconic show, as well as the legendary performers and iconic moments that shaped its evolution and legacy. Get ready to uncover the fascinating history behind the creation of the Follies.

The Birth of The Follies

You may be wondering how The Follies came to be. Well, let’s take a step back and delve into its influential predecessors and forgotten origins. The origins of The Follies can be traced back to the early 1900s when vaudeville and burlesque shows were at the height of their popularity. These forms of entertainment showcased a variety of acts, including comedy, music, dance, and acrobatics. However, it was the combination of these elements that set The Follies apart.

One of the most influential predecessors of The Follies was the Ziegfeld Follies, created by Florenz Ziegfeld Jr. in 1907. Ziegfeld was known for his extravagant productions that featured beautiful chorus girls, elaborate sets, and top-notch performers. His shows were a spectacle, capturing the attention of audiences and setting the stage for the future success of The Follies.

Another forgotten origin of The Follies lies in the French cancan, a high-energy dance performed by a line of female dancers known as the chorus line. The cancan was notorious for its lively and risqué movements, and it became a staple of The Follies. The incorporation of the cancan added an element of excitement and sensuality to the show, further differentiating it from its predecessors.

Early Influences and Precursors

The early influences and precursors of The Follies can be traced back to the vibrant world of vaudeville and burlesque shows. Vaudeville, a form of variety entertainment popular in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, featured a mix of comedy sketches, song and dance routines, magic acts, and acrobatics. Burlesque shows, on the other hand, were known for their risqué humor, elaborate costumes, and lively musical numbers. These forms of entertainment provided the foundation for The Follies, which combined elements of both vaudeville and burlesque to create a unique and extravagant theatrical experience.

The origins of The Follies can be seen in the development of vaudeville and burlesque in the late 19th century. Vaudeville theaters, such as Tony Pastor’s Opera House in New York City, showcased a wide range of acts, including singers, dancers, comedians, and specialty performers. These theaters served as a training ground for many of the performers who would go on to star in The Follies. Similarly, burlesque shows, with their emphasis on satire and parody, laid the groundwork for the comedic and theatrical elements that would become synonymous with The Follies.

In the historical context of the early 20th century, The Follies represented a departure from traditional theater and a reflection of the changing cultural landscape. As society became more accepting of risqué and provocative entertainment, The Follies pushed boundaries and embraced a more daring and sensual style. The development of The Follies was also influenced by the emergence of new technologies, such as electric lighting, which allowed for more elaborate and visually stunning productions.

The Rise of Florenz Ziegfeld

After establishing its roots in vaudeville and burlesque, The Follies began to flourish with the rise of Florenz Ziegfeld. Ziegfeld, a visionary showman, played a crucial role in the development of The Follies and the rise of Broadway as a major force in the entertainment industry.

Ziegfeld was known for his grand and extravagant productions, which showcased the best talent of the time. He introduced a new level of sophistication and glamour to the stage, with elaborate sets, lavish costumes, and innovative choreography. Ziegfeld’s productions captivated audiences and revolutionized the way entertainment was presented.

Under Ziegfeld’s direction, The Follies became a cultural phenomenon, attracting audiences from all walks of life. He brought together a diverse range of performers, including singers, dancers, comedians, and actors, creating a truly immersive and entertaining experience for theatergoers.

Ziegfeld’s success with The Follies paved the way for the rise of Broadway as the epicenter of the entertainment industry. His innovative approach to production and his ability to captivate audiences set a new standard for theatrical performances. Ziegfeld’s influence can still be felt today, as his legacy lives on in the world of theater and entertainment.

The Spectacular Debut of Ziegfeld Follies

One might say that it was quite a sight when the Ziegfeld Follies made their spectacular debut. This grand production, filled with spectacle and glamour, captivated audiences and left a lasting cultural impact. Here are three key aspects that contributed to its significance:

  1. Extravagant Sets and Costumes: The Ziegfeld Follies spared no expense in creating visually stunning sets and dazzling costumes. Every detail was meticulously designed to transport the audience into a world of opulence and fantasy. These lavish productions set a new standard for theatrical extravagance and became synonymous with the Follies’ brand.
  2. Talented Performers: The Follies featured a cast of talented performers, including renowned dancers, singers, and comedic actors. From the graceful movements of the dancers to the powerful vocals of the singers, each act was carefully curated to showcase the best talent of the time. These performers became celebrities in their own right, further enhancing the Follies’ cultural impact.
  3. Progressive Ideals: The Ziegfeld Follies broke boundaries by challenging societal norms and embracing progressive ideals. The show featured diverse performers and celebrated individuality, promoting a message of inclusivity and empowerment. This forward-thinking approach resonated with audiences and helped shape the cultural landscape of the era.

The spectacular debut of the Ziegfeld Follies was more than just a show; it was a cultural phenomenon that set the stage for future entertainment extravaganzas. Its legacy continues to be felt in the world of theater and beyond.

Controversy and Scandal Surrounding the Follies

Get ready to uncover the scandalous secrets and controversies that surrounded the Follies. From its scandalous origins to the infamous scandals that plagued the show, the Follies were no strangers to controversy.

The Follies were born out of scandalous origins, with its creator, Florenz Ziegfeld, known for his extravagant lifestyle and scandalous relationships. Ziegfeld’s affairs and lavish parties were the talk of the town, and this reputation followed him to the Follies. Critics accused Ziegfeld of promoting immorality and objectifying women through his lavish productions.

The Follies were not without their fair share of infamous scandals either. One scandal that rocked the Follies was the “Nude Model Riot” of 1915. During a performance, a group of women protested against the use of nude models on stage, causing chaos and disrupting the show. This scandal led to heated debates about the morality of the Follies and the boundaries of artistic expression.

Another scandal that marred the Follies was the “Ziegfeld Girl Scandal” of 1931. Several former Ziegfeld girls accused Ziegfeld of mistreatment, exploitation, and unfair contracts. This scandal exposed the darker side of the glamorous show and tarnished Ziegfeld’s reputation.

Despite the controversies and scandals that surrounded the Follies, the show continued to captivate audiences with its extravagant productions and talented performers. The scandals may have added a layer of intrigue and titillation to the Follies, making it even more enticing for those seeking scandalous entertainment.

Legendary Performers and Iconic Moments

Continuing the scandalous legacy, the Follies showcased legendary performers and iconic moments that left audiences in awe. Throughout its history, the Follies attracted some of the most talented individuals in the entertainment industry, leaving a lasting cultural impact. Here are three legendary performers and their iconic moments that defined the Follies:

  1. Josephine Baker: The mesmerizing Josephine Baker took the stage in the 1920s, captivating audiences with her energetic and provocative performances. Her dance routines, characterized by her signature moves and elaborate costumes, pushed boundaries and challenged societal norms.
  2. Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers: This dynamic duo wowed Follies audiences with their extraordinary dance skills and undeniable chemistry. Their elegant and seamless performances became the epitome of grace and style in the golden era of Hollywood.
  3. Bob Fosse: Known for his unique choreography style, Bob Fosse revolutionized the Follies stage with his sensual and intricate dance routines. His iconic moves, such as the “Fosse Walk” and the “Fosse Shoulder Roll,” became synonymous with the Follies’ allure and sophistication.

These legendary performers not only left their mark on the Follies but also shaped the broader cultural landscape, inspiring future generations of entertainers. Their iconic moments continue to be celebrated and remembered, reminding us of the Follies’ enduring legacy.

Evolution and Legacy of the Follies

To understand the evolution and legacy of the Follies, it is important to delve into its early roots and the vision of its founder. The Follies experienced significant evolutionary changes over the years, adapting to the shifting cultural landscape and audience preferences. Initially, the Follies showcased extravagant stage productions featuring beautiful showgirls, elaborate costumes, and captivating musical numbers. However, as the years went by, the Follies evolved to include more diverse acts and genres, incorporating comedy, magic, and even acrobatics into their performances.

The cultural impact of the Follies cannot be overstated. It not only entertained audiences but also challenged societal norms and pushed boundaries. The Follies represented a departure from the traditional theater and provided a platform for artists to express themselves freely. It served as a beacon of liberation and empowerment for women, as it offered them opportunities to showcase their talent and beauty on the stage. The Follies also played a crucial role in shaping popular culture, influencing fashion, dance, and music trends.

The legacy of the Follies is a testament to its enduring significance. Despite facing challenges and changing tastes, the Follies managed to captivate audiences for decades and leave an indelible mark on the entertainment industry. Its influence can still be seen in modern-day revues and variety shows, proving that the Follies’ impact continues to reverberate through time.

Unraveling the Mystery: Who Truly Started the Follies?

Now let’s delve into the fascinating question of who truly started the Follies and unravel the mystery behind its origins. Uncovering the secrets of the Follies’ beginnings is no easy task, as rival claims have clouded the true story. However, through careful analysis and examination of historical records, a clearer picture begins to emerge.

  1. Florenz Ziegfeld: Ziegfeld is often credited as the founder of the Follies. His extravagant productions and talent for showcasing beautiful women captivated audiences and set the standard for the Follies’ glamour and grandeur.
  2. Billy Watson: Watson, a lesser-known figure, has also been claimed as the originator of the Follies. Some argue that he laid the foundation for the revue-style format, featuring a variety of acts and performers, which became synonymous with the Follies.
  3. Inspiration from Europe: Another theory suggests that the Follies drew inspiration from European cabaret and revue shows. The Moulin Rouge in Paris and the Folies Bergère are often cited as influences on the Follies’ concept.

As we attempt to unravel the mystery of who truly started the Follies, it becomes clear that multiple factors and individuals contributed to its creation. While Ziegfeld’s influence cannot be denied, it is important to recognize the contributions of other figures and external influences that shaped the Follies into the iconic spectacle it became.



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