I wish I had time to talk all about All-Media Star (stage, radio, screen, television) comedian Eddie Cantor today! A reoccurring figure in my work who has fascinated me every since high school when I first guiltily giggled through one of his blackface routines--which one was it? When he was rubbed in spa mud to hide from thugs, or after burning an errant champagne cork to hide from heavies or just slathering it on to dance with the Nicholas brothers--when his movies made a rare appearance on TV? My favorite, the complex, disturbing and funny moment I return to in my videos is in gorgeous, Technicolor "Whoopee", when Henry Williams hides in a gas stove that blows up revealing (and disguising) him as a "black" man.
But in Cantor's early films "black' is only one of myriad examples of racial and ethnic cross-dressing that animate these "anarchic", vaudeville-style musicals. He appears as Indians, Orientals, Latinos, Ladies, Romans and importantly, "Hebrews"! The movies are crazy and for me, a central part of the history of our film culture. But I can't go into all that now. OK, Toots?!
Here's a previous post with Eddie Cantor.