Historian to introduce public to the incredibly forgotten Sophie Tucker March 23

University of South Carolina historian Lauren Sklaroff has spent years researching the life and influence of Sophie Tucker. She will introduce audiences to Tucker in a public talk, titled “Introducing the ‘First Lady of Show Business’: The Incredibly Forgotten Sophie Tucker,” at 6 p.m., Thursday (March 23) in Tapp’s Art Center on Main St. in Columbia. The event, which is free, is co-sponsored by the College of Arts and Sciences’ History Center and Jewish Studies Program.

Ask most people about Tucker and they’ll respond, “Who?” The simple answer is that Tucker was one of the most famous performers in the early 20th century who amassed a career that spanned vaudeville, radio, stage and screen over five decades. Sklaroff will offer a more rich and complex answer March 23 that comes from her nearly five-year study of Tucker, which includes researching more than 300 oversized scrapbooks that the cabaret superstar began keeping in her late teens to document her life.

The culmination of Sklaroff’s research is detailed in her forthcoming biography titled “Wanting to Be Wanted: Sophie Tucker and the Creation of a Show Business Legend,” by University of Texas Press. Sklaroff’s biography is not a boring chronology. Instead, it’s a fascinating account of how a progressive woman constructs her own personal narrative of struggle, overcoming adversity and breaking boundaries in gender, race and religion at a time of great cultural and technological change.

For more information about Sklaroff’s talk, contact the History Center at 803-777-6172 or HistCntr@mailbox.sc.edu.

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