Sophie Tucker: Last of the Red Hot Mamas by David Soren

Ukrainian born Sophie Tucker (1887-1966, real name Sonya Kalish) was perhaps the greatest female star in vaudeville and she remained a household word for more than 50 years due to her remarkable ability to continually re-invent herself and make herself relevant and hip to several generations of audiences.

At the beginning of her career she possessed a powerful voice which could easily fill an auditorium in the days before microphones. As she approached middle age her voice began to lose a good deal of its register and she survived by doing more talking through her songs, using her voice to give advice or offer sometimes slightly off-color material, all the while hitting the notes that she could. Later in her career she would pass out Sophie Tucker Scarves to her most devoted fans and one of these survives in the University of Arizona Main Library Special Collections. Having become a star in the 1910s, she milked her fame through a variety of gimmicks. Her theme song, Some of These Days, was issued and re-issued down through the years in sheet music and was a hit several times over. She was still performing well into her eighties, and I remember her at one performance doing Beatles songs and being embraced by a whole new generation as well as that generations grandparents. She outlasted by far all the great female power singers of her day, such as Belle Baker, so that she rightly earned her self proclaimed title, Last of the Red Hot Mamas. She also holds the title of most sheet music issued in her name by any female entertainer ever, followed in second place by Ruth Etting.

The University of Arizona School of Anthropology Vaudeville Collection has a large number of Sophie Tucker sheet musics including the following:

Name: Tucker