- Cantor, Eddie
- (1892?-1964)Entertainer Eddie Cantor was born Israel Iskowitz in New York City and raised by his grandmother after his parents died when he was three. He changed his name to Cantor in 1911 when he began working as a singer and comedian in vaudeville. After success in musical comedy in 1916, he joined the Ziegfeld Follies between 1917 and 1919. He played an important part in the strike in 1919 that led to the Actors’ Equity Association gaining a foothold on Broadway. He later became president of the Screen Actors’ Guild, the American Federation of Radio Artists, and the American Guild of Variety Artists.After appearing in various Broadway musicals and revues, he achieved great success in Kid Boots, one of the longest running musicals of the 1920s. He starred in the silent film version in 1926. Bankrupted by the Wall Street Crash in 1929, Cantor was successful once more in 1930 with Whooppee, which was also made into a film. He was one of the first stars from Broadway to have a weekly radio show. He was on the “Chase and Sanborn Hour” from 1931 until the end of 1934, but continued on other radio shows throughout the decade. He also stared in a number of successful films, including Palmy Days (1931), The Kid from Spain (1932), Roman Scandals (1933), Kid Millions (1934), Forty Little Mothers (1940), and continued appearing in movies like If You Knew Susie (1948). He recorded the soundtrack to The Eddie Cantor Story in 1953. Cantor made a few television appearances but had to retire following a heart attack in 1957.As well as his trade union activities, Cantor was involved in a number of social causes supporting needy children and assisting Jewish children who fled the Nazi regime in Germany and elsewhere. He was also the founder of the March of Dimes, established to combat polio. He was awarded the Medal of Freedom by Lyndon Johnson in 1964.See also Cinema; Literature and theater.
Historical Dictionary of the Roosevelt–Truman Era . Neil A. Wynn . 2015.