Eddie Cantor

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Eddie Cantor

Eddie CantorOctober 3, 1933: on this scorching-hot, 100 degree day, the Board of Directors and officers of the Screen Actors Guild resigned to allow bigger names with real studio "clout" to fill these positions. October 4 brought a new Guild president - Eddie Cantor. In '33, getting Cantor was a coup. By then, the former Isidore Itzkowitz had blazed a stellar trail from Broadway's Ziegfeld Follies in the 19-teens, to hit Hollywood films like The Kid From Spain and had the highest-rated show on radio. His name made books like Yoo Hoo! 1927: sheet music Prosperity: a Saga of Weeping Wall Street, best-sellers, and he put songs like Makin' Whoopee and If You Knew Susie on everyone's lips. An early member of the Actors' Equity Association, leading player in its 1919 strike, and long-time member of Equity's Council, he knew unions. He also had a pal in Washington - President Franklin Roosevelt. Energetic Eddie hosted the Guild's first public meeting, October 8, 1933, at Hollywood's El Capitan Theatre. In November, he convinced FDR to suspend three objectionable provisions in the proposed Code of Fair Competition for the Motion Picture Industry: salary limitations; the "anti-raiding" clause; and licensing of actors' agents by the producers. 1931: Palmy Days with Charlotte Greenwood At the first annual meeting, May 17, 1934, Eddie concluded his speech with timeless words: "Boys and girls...I have been proud to serve you. I am only a small part of the movement, one individual. When I am gone and forgotten, the Guild will still be here. Other willing hands will take up the torch and carry it forward. 1933: Roman Scandals If you stand together, you cannot lose. Actors cannot be beaten, except by actors. The Guild is for you, and you must be for the Guild. Stand together." UCLA's Department of Special Collections, in the Young Research Library in Los Angeles, is the repository holding 75 boxes of Cantor's personal papers, memorabilia, photographs, scripts, awards, and other artifacts. The collection's finding aid may be accessed on the web at www.oac.cdlib.org/findaid/ark:/13030/tf4779n8jq. The official Cantor website, maintained by the Eddie Cantor Appreciation Society (formed in 1993), is at www.eddiecantor.com.