The Ziegfeld Follies was a series of elaborate theatrical revue productions on Broadway in New York City from 1907 to 1931, with renewals in 1934 and 1936. They became a radio program in 1932 and 1936 as The Ziegfeld Follies of the Air.
Inspired by the Folies Bergère of Paris, the Ziegfeld Follies were conceived and mounted by Florenz Ziegfeld Jr., reportedly at the suggestion of his then-wife, the stage actress and singer Anna Held. The shows’ producers were turn-of-the-twentieth-century producing titans Klaw and Erlanger.
The Follies were a series of lavish revues, something between later Broadway shows and the more elaborate high class vaudeville and variety show. The first Follies was produced in 1907 at the Jardin de Paris roof theatre.
During the Follies era, many of the top entertainers, including W. C. Fields, Eddie Cantor, Josephine Baker, Fanny Brice, Ann Pennington, Bert Williams, Eva Tanguay, Bob Hope, Will Rogers, Ruth Etting, Ray Bolger, Helen Morgan, Louise Brooks, Marilyn Miller, Ed Wynn, Gilda Gray, Nora Bayes and Sophie Tucker appeared in the shows.
The Ziegfeld Follies were also famous for their display of many beautiful chorus girls, commonly known as Ziegfeld Girls, who “paraded up and down flights of stairs as anything from birds to battleships.” They usually wore elaborate costumes by designers such as Erté, Lady Duff Gordon and Ben Ali Haggin.
The “tableaux vivants” were designed by Ben Ali Haggin from 1917 to 1925. Joseph Urban was the scenic designer for the Follies shows starting in 1915.
After Ziegfeld’s death his widow, actress Billie Burke, authorized use of his name for Ziegfeld Follies in 1934 and 1936 to Jake Shubert, who then produced the Follies. The name was later used by other promoters in New York City, Philadelphia, and again on Broadway, with less connection to the original Follies. These later efforts failed miserably. When the show toured, the 1934 edition was recorded in its entirety, from the overture to play-out music, on a series of 78 rpm discs, which were edited by the record producer David Cunard to form an album of the highlights of the production and which was released as a CD in 1997. (Wikipedia)