"Would you like to hear some dirty, filthy stories? I have some nasty, nasty ones," Bette Midler asked the crowd during a show at Ithaca College, back in 1973. "These jokes are from the files of the late and great Miss Sophie Tucker. She's dead, but not forgotten."
That was our first date. Over forty years later, we've seen dozens of the Divine Miss M.'s shows and heard as many bawdy jokes. We decided to find out about the woman who inspired such a showbiz legend, so in 2006 we tracked down a copy of Sophie's autobiography on eBay and read it cover to cover. Still curious, we sought out two more obscure biographies printed decades ago. One of these books mentioned that the New York Public Library housed a collection of Sophie's scrapbooks and listed all of the other far flung archives with Tucker memorabilia.
Using that list as our guide, over the last eight years we have managed to read more than four hundred of Sophie's scrapbooks, visit fourteen archives, and look at more than ten thousand pictures. We interviewed scores of Sophie's family members and friends, historians, and stars influenced by her singular talent. We've traveled to sixteen states, Canada, England, Scotland, Ireland and France in pursuit of Sophie.
In the process of becoming the world's foremost Sophie experts--and fans!--we discovered that Sophie was friends with everybody who was anybody during the first half of the twentieth century. She counted presidents, royalty, gangsters, and stars of stage, screen, and radio among her pals. Her scrapbooks contained Christmas cards from Elvis, thank you notes from a teenage Barbara Walters, and letters from Tony Bennett, Jerry Lewis, Carol Channing, and thousands more. We lovingly refer to her as the Forrest Gump of Show Business, for the depth and breadth of her influence from 1886-1966.
It became our mission to remind the world about Sophie Tucker. We began with a documentary film, then wrote this, our first fictional memoir, and are in the process of expanding her story into a Broadway musical, a movie musical, and a television show. The magic of Sophie's life is that there's plenty of eye-popping material than can be believed.
This book would not have been possible without the help of our late, great mentor, Phil Ramone. Without his advice and council, Sophie's legend might still be languishing in dusty archives around the world.
We also want to thank our editor, Kathy Cacace. If Tucker had Kathy, they would've already made an Oscar-winning movie out of Sophie's life.
Our assistant editors Elena Rudesky, Tad Asaro, Joe Yakacki, Mary Myers, Jim Stettler and Dahlia Paloma have been equally integral to our vision. We couldn't have done it without them.
Last but not least, my graphic designers, Garik Barseghyan, who made all that you are now reading look like a million bucks, and Diego Lopez, who made all the black and white photos into gorgeous living color. You two are real artists of the highest order.
All the best,
Sue and Lloyd Ecker