Not Bad for Delancey Street: The Rise of Billy Rose

Brandeis Univ. Sept. 2018. 320p. photos. notes. index. ISBN 9781611688900. $29.95; ebk. ISBN 9781512603132. BIOG
OrangeReviewStarThis comprehensive biography of Billy Rose (1899–1966), the ultimate "showman," vaudeville producer, husband to Fanny Brice (as well as four other marriages), is a compelling story of a man who had a talent for promoting the theatrical arts. Cohen (Overweight Sensation: The Life and Comedy of Allan Sherman) traces Rose's early days, his relationship with his mother, Fanny Rosenberg, whom he idolized, and his remarkable success in vaudeville and New York show business. Rose also nursed a desire to "add to his nightclub and producer credentials the role of Jewish hero." Affected by the Holocaust and the rise of anti-Jewish actions in Europe and anti-Semitism in the United States, he became an important supporter of Jewish movements and a great philanthropist of Jewish causes. For example, he donated his famed sculpture collection for a new sculpture garden designed by Japanese American artist Isamu Noguchi to Jerusalem's Israel Museum. Rose's great success with the Israel Museum and his extraordinary wealth were for him the culmination of his extraordinary Jewish American life.
VERDICT Highly recommended for readers interested in Jewish American culture and New York show business in the mid-20th century.

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