The Outrageous Sophie Tucker…a movie review by Roz Tarszisz

October 31, 2014 by Roz Tarszisz
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Many descriptions have been applied to showbiz legend Sophie Tucker. Add consummate self promoter and marketer to mistress of the snappy one-liner. Far ahead of her time, this 2013 homage documents her talent, wit and charm.

Tucker was “one of the early pioneers of modern pop singing,” according to American entertainer and music historian, Michael Feinstein. Sassy and confident, she made no secret of her liking for men although she had three disastrous marriages. With no illusions about her looks, she once answered the question as to what her measurements were by succinctly replying “48”. By that she meant 48 inches around the breasts, waist and hips.**

Large she may have been but possessed an appealing allure. While entertaining US troops in Florida during World War II she told the audience to write to her. She thereby became a pinup to thousands of young men who wrote her letters whilst at war.

Tucker kept many photographs, letters, cards, playbills, advertisements, telegrams using them to create 400 scrapbooks chronicling her long career. Donated to libraries, they provide the basis of this fascinating look at her life.

Surviving family and friends and their descendants are interviewed as well as stars like Carol Channing and Tony Bennett. Archival television footage from shows such as The Ed Sullivan Show and movie clips give a glimpse of her verve and style.

Judy Garland credits her with teaching her how “to put over a song”. Sophie Tucker knew many US Presidents, met the King and Queen of England and was friendly with J. Edgar Hoover. The latter once asked her to give him one of her sparkly dresses when she was done with it.

Her personal life was not so successful and her son was a constant disappointment.

Singer Tony Bennett described her as a great but underrated jazz singer and the casual way she sang “no one but the right man can do me wrong” illustrates his point.

After writing her autobiography “Some of These Days” she would sell and sign copies in the theatre foyer after a show – it was the only way to get her autograph. She collected the names and addresses of anyone she met and would write personal letters to them prior to bringing her tour to their town. This created a fan base that helped sell seats. “Before there was Facebook, there was Tuckerbook” observes the film’s producer, Lloyd Ecker.

Bawdy, risqué and irreverent, she was one of a kind.   “Tucker don’t follow men. Men follow Tucker” she said. What a gal.


Directed by William Gazecki US 2013 96mins English

<Screening at the Jewish International Film Festival in  Melbourne and Sydney. See for dates and details


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