George White

George White

Birth
Death 10 Oct 1968 (aged 78)
Hollywood, Los Angeles County, California, USA
Burial North Hollywood, Los Angeles County, California, USA
Plot Block G, Section 7280, Lot 6 (unmarked).
Memorial ID 17637172 · View Source
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Theatrical Producer. Creator of the popular "George White's Scandals" stage revues. Largely forgotten today, White was one of the more colorful figures of 20th Century American theatre. He was cocky: he claimed that Broadway's nickname, "The Great White Way", had been coined for him. He was pugnacious: he once punched out singer Rudy Vallee over a salary dispute. His musicals helped launch the careers of George Gershwin, Alice Faye, Eleanor Powell, Dolores Costello, Louise Brooks, and Ann Miller. And in the 1920s his name was synonymous with Broadway at its jazziest and sexiest. White was coy about his background, but most believe he was born George Weitz in Toronto. He got his start as a dancer in Burlesque and hoofed his way to a featured spot in Florenz Ziegfeld's 1915 "Follies", in which he popularized a new dance called the Turkey Trot. He went to the Great Ziegfeld and demanded a raise - and was fired instead. From that moment he vowed to get even by becoming a producer himself. The first edition of "George White's Scandals" opened on Broadway in 1919. A shoestring musical revue starring White himself, it supposedly got it's name from White's spinster aunt, who was shocked by the scantily clad chorines. But it wasn't just another girlie show. Unlike the glitzy fashion parades of the "Follies", the "Scandals" emphasized dancing and was staged with the breathless pace that would soon typify Jazz Age entertainment. White produced 16 "Scandals" revues over the next 20 years, as well as such hit musicals as "Runnin' Wild" and "Flying High". In the process he established himself as one of Broadway's leading lights, and Ziegfeld's fiercest rival. White was more closely involved in the creation of his shows than any stage producer of his time. He auditioned the talent, directed the revues (or directed his directors), wrote much of the material, supervised the choreography, and sequenced the shows' numbers. He had a sharp eye for new talent, most notably George Gershwin, who wrote the music for five editions of the "Scandals" (1920 to 1925). During the Depression he took his talents to Hollywood and produced and directed two film versions of the "Scandals" (1934, 1935) for 20th Century-Fox. His only passion outside the theatre was playing the horses, and he once lost $70,000 (in 1920s dollars) on a single race. He never married. In 1932 he achieved his ultimate goal, if only by default: Florenz Ziegfeld died, taking the "Follies" with him and leaving White the undisputed King of the Broadway Revue. But he didn't enjoy Ziegfeld's longevity, and the reason can be deduced by comparing the two. Ziegfeld was a pure entrepreneur who pragmatically set aside his personal tastes to give the public what it wanted. White put on shows he personally wanted to see, and what he liked inevitably began to lag behind popular trends. When his final "Scandals" revue opened in 1939, it was panned as old-fashioned. He never got another Broadway show off the ground. The rest of his story is one of eclipse. In 1946 he was indicted for vehicular manslaughter following a hit-and-run car accident that killed a newlywed couple. He plead guilty to a lesser charge and served nine months in a State prison farm near San Diego. His attempts to revive the "Scandals" as a traveling nightclub act fizzled and he declared bankruptcy twice. The last of his money went into a Las Vegas supper club that mysteriously burned down the night before it was set to open. The elderly White was a poor and much subdued man. But he still clung to vestiges of his once-glamorous lifestyle. He lived in a rented Beverly Hills bungalow he couldn't afford and continued to indulge his fondness for horse racing - at the $2 windows. He died of leukemia.

Bio by: Bobb Edwards


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  • Maintained by: Find A Grave
  • Originally Created by: Bobb Edwards
  • Added: 22 Jan 2007
  • Find A Grave Memorial 17637172
  • Find A Grave, database and images (https://www.findagrave.com : accessed ), memorial page for George White (12 Mar 1890–10 Oct 1968), Find A Grave Memorial no. 17637172, citing Valhalla Memorial Park, North Hollywood, Los Angeles County, California, USA ; Maintained by Find A Grave .