UKULELE MUSING 30, 27 JULY 2019—“SECOND HAND ROSE.” FROM THE FOLLIES TO FILM, AND GENERATION TO GENERATION
Most of us who have heard this song from our Yellow Book probably associate it with Barbra Streisand in the 1968 film “Funny Girl” for which she won an Oscar. Interestingly, the song was not part of the original Broadway musical by the same name but was added for the film. Who knew?
The song bemoans (with tongue in cheek) the sad-to-her life of the daughter of a second-hand dealer—her home, her clothes, and even her boyfriend. Ah, woe is she!
Barbra Streisand: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lCtrcAp3TEY
Those of us with a grey hair or two might recall, however, the performer who originated the song and on whose life the film was based, Fanny Brice.
The song was written by Grant Clarke and James F. Hanley, Tin Pan Alley and Broadway songwriters, specifically for Brice’s appearance in the “Ziegfeld Follies” of 1921.
A critic at the time describing Brice wrote: “This inimitable artist chalked up one of the few high marks of the evening with this song. For clarity of utterance, economy of means and a highly developed comic sense, Miss Brice has no peer on our stage.” A pretty good review!
Fanny Brice: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mxEwMcJ8GXc
Brice (nee Fiania Borach, 1891- 1951) was born into a Hungarian-Jewish family in Manhattan. Her father ran a saloon and she became an entertainer first in Burlesque and then in the Follies. In all, she was a model, comedienne, singer, recording artist, and stage as well as film actress.
She became the star of many Broadway musicals and shows during her career and her good looks, comedic personality, and brassy but beautiful Broadway voice made her a popular headliner of the ever-renewing Follies in the 20s and 30s.
Fannie Brice, My Man: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RKivfzjQxOQ
Through the 1950s, the medium of radio gave her another broad audience with her most memorable role as the creator and star of the top-rated radio series “The Baby Snooks Show.”
Needless to say, a rather broad range of talent—from burlesque girl to bratty toddler!
Baby Snooks with Judy Garland: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4RlBJ8PbKuM
Interestingly, she always performed as Snooks in costume even though it was a radio show with no studio audience! Go figure.
For her contributions to the film and radio industries, Brice was posthumously inducted into the Hollywood Walk of Fame with two stars, one for radio and one for film.
Grant Clarke (1891-1931) was a prolific Tin Pan Alley and Broadway songwriter of the era and wrote hits like “Ragtime Cowboy Joe” and “Oogie, Oogie, Wa Wa.”
(I wonder why this one isn’t in our books. Perhaps the next edition! Check it out anyway.)
James F. Hanley (1892-1942), also of Tin Pan Alley and Broadway, wrote such standards as “Back Home Again in Indiana” and “Zing Went the Stings of My Heart.”
Those were the days!
So, we have another Yellow Book song—“Second Hand Rose”—of more than one generation, the Streisand latter paying homage to the Brice former. Both renditions live on.