Frederick J. Garner, 1933
National Portrait Gallery
A tiny cyclone of clapping hands, skipping feet, and rolling eyes, Eddie Cantor was among Ziegfield's most endearing discoveries, ranking among the American musical theater's great clowns. Known as the "Apostle of Pep" his personae of a timid soul given to wild outbursts blended with the raffish innocence of the street urchin with the polish of the Broadway professional. Like his friend and colleague Fanny Brice, he filled his performances with affectionate references to his modest beginnings in Manhattan's Lower East Side, which made him an instant favorite with not only the Jewish theater-going population, but with general audiences as well. Cantor enlivened the 1917, 1918, 1919 and 1927 seasons of the Follies and found his finest stage role in the 1928 Ziegfield production of Whoopie, the score of which gave him and endearing signature tune in the humorous "Making Whoopie."