Broadway: The American Musical: Give My Regards to Broadway
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Broadway: The American Musical: Give My Regards to Broadway

Sunday, October 7 at 10:00 p.m.

When Florenz Ziegfeld Jr. first hit New York in 1893, the intersection of Broadway and 42nd was nobody's idea of "the crossroads of the world."

But by 1913, "'The Ziegfeld Follies' really were an amalgamation of everything that was happening in America, in New York, at that time," says writer Philip Furia. "Flo Ziegfeld was like the Broadway equivalent of the melting pot itself." Ziegfeld's story introduces many of the era's key figures: Irving Berlin, a Russian immigrant who became the voice of assimilated America; entertainers like Jewish comedienne Fanny Brice (at right ) and African American Bert Williams, who became America's first "crossover" artists; and the brash Irish American George M. Cohan, whose song-and-dance routines embodied the energy of Broadway.

This is also the story of the onset of World War I and the Red Summer of 1919, when labor unrest swept the nation -- and Broadway. The episode culminates in Ziegfeld's 1927 production of Jerome Kern and Oscar Hammerstein II's far-sighted masterpiece, "Show Boat." With the Great Depression, the Ziegfeld era became a memory.