Today is the birthday of Sonja Henie (1912-1969), who for ten years enjoyed an unlikely second career for a world champion ice skater — movie star. (although there were others who attempted to follow her lead, with less success)
I watched her first picture One in a Million (1936) several times when I was researching No Applause, because it co-stars several vaudevillians who get to do their turns over the course of this unusual movie. Adolphe Menjou plays a movie mogul desperate to find a “natural” actress, which of course turns out to be Henie.
Along the way we meet several nuts also trying to make it at the studio: the Ritz Brothers and Borah Minnevich and his Harmonica Rascals, with great old-time characters like Julius Tannen and Ned Sparks also in the cast, not to mention Don Ameche. And of course, Sonja herself!
To learn more about the history of vaudeville, consult No Applause, Just Throw Money: The Book That Made Vaudeville Famous, available at Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and wherever nutty books are sold.And don’t miss my new book Chain of Fools: Silent Comedy and Its Legacies from Nickelodeons to Youtube, just released by Bear Manor Media, also available from amazon.com etc etc etc