A century is a mere blink in the history of mankind, but it’s a long time in the history of show business. Just about a hundred years ago, a Chicago-born talent manager started a franchise called the “Follies” that set New York on its ear. He apotheosized the showgirl and changed the entertainment rulebook by making the revue an ethnic stew. He later went on to produce “Show Boat,” the first great American musical. But who knows much about Florenz Ziegfeld Jr. today? To most New Yorkers he’s just a name on a dinosaurish single-screen movie house in Midtown. Even the stars he showcased — Fanny Brice and Will Rogers, Eddie Cantor and Marilyn Miller — are mostly just names in the pages of theater histories. Among Ziegfeld’s long A-list of “Follies” regulars, W. C. Fields alone forged a big-time career in the movies, ensuring the only kind of immortality that seems readily marketable today, the kind that can be uploaded onto YouTube in easily digestible nuggets.

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