The Outrageous Sophie Tucker
Reviewed by Robbie Tucker
Though we aren’t related, I would have liked to be. Sophie Tucker’s characteristic chutzpah and musical talent made her iconic. Her formidable dedication to self-promotion, her marketing savvy, and her giant heart, made the Ukrainian-born chanteuse a force. She was the first to autograph her own books, while intimidating members of her audience to buy the memoir on their way out of her concerts.
Tony Bennett, Michael Feinstein, Carol Channing, Mamie Van Doren, Brenda Lee and many others regale us on Sophie’s historic impact in show business, speaking of her steadfast integrity and generosity. She never, ever, signed a contract, nor broke a commitment, and she smashed a lot of barriers for female artists. At the height of her fame she helped other women, like Judy Garland, climb right up behind her.
While we learn more about the producers who narrate on camera than I’d like, the film could have done more to enlighten us on The Last of the Red Hot Mamas. But the performance glimpses, from Vaudville through the mid-1960s, are provocative reminders of her lasting influence among artists still seen today: Bette Middler and Lady Gaga among them. It’s an enjoyable ride most of the way. Directed by William Gazecki, it opens in NYC July 24th.
About the Reviewer: Robbie Tucker drove a ’55 two-toned Buick Roadmaster in San Francisco, where she started working in film production. She convinced Francis Coppola to let her work on the movie about her namesake, but moved to New York City before shooting began. When she’s not writing her own memoir, or ghost writing someone else’s, you can probably find her at the movies.