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Grant number like: FZ-250455-16

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Lauren Rebecca Sklaroff
University of South Carolina (Columbia, SC 29208-0001)

Public Scholars
Research Programs

[Grant products]

$50,400 (approved)
$50,400 (awarded)

Grant period:
9/1/2016 – 8/31/2017

Red Hot Mama: The Life of Sophie Tucker

The first full-length biography of singer, comedian, and entertainer Sophie Tucker (1887-1966), telling the story of her life, her fifty-year career in American show business, and the challenges she posed to conventional views of race, religion, and femininity.

This project is the first in-depth biography of performer Sophie Tucker. While she was a gutsy, racy, song-belting stage performer, her influence extended far beyond the sequins, wigs, and innuendos. She would have been proud to be a reference point for modern comediennes like Bette Midler and Joan Rivers--or to have her signature song, "Some of These Days," appear in the pilot for the hit show, Boardwalk Empire--but her cultural influence goes much deeper. Known among celebrities and audiences as a “Yiddishe Mama,” Tucker worked to create unity among various faiths in her appearances and charity work. Dedicated to social justice, she advocated for African Americans in the entertainment industry and cultivated friendships with leading black activists and performers over her five decade career.