Eddie Cantor
1892 - 1964

                                          Comic actor and singer, Eddie Cantor, was born Isidore
                                           Itzkowitz in New York, January 31, 1892. Growing up on
                                           the Lower East Side of Manhattan he was reared by his
                                           maternal grandmother, Esther Kantrowitz, a
                                           warmhearted, giving woman who was responsible,
                                           inadvertently, for his eventual name and career. When the
                                           school registrar asked for the six-year-old's name, Esther,
                                           who spoke no English (only Yiddish, Polish, and
                                           Russian), became confused and started to give her own
                                           name, Kantrowitz, but never finished it. The registrar
                                           wrote down "Isidore Kanter." Later the boy himself
                                           changed the spelling to Cantor. Still later he changed the
                                           Isidore to Eddie because his girlfriend, Ida Tobias, later to
                                           become his wife, liked the name Eddie.
 

                                           Along with other future stars, including Jimmy Durante,
                                           one of his earliest successes was as a singing waiter at a
                                           Coney Island restaurant, singing songs, or making them
                                           up, for the customers. Breaking into burlesque, he soon
                                           became a star of the Ziegfeld Follies, with such hits as
                                           Kid Boots and Whoopee. Although his unique style was
                                           poorly captured by film, he made many, and they remain
                                           a treasure to Cantor fans today. He even had a brief
                                           television series in the 1950s, kinescope copies are still
                                           available.

                                           Such a popular entertainer, Cantor was tapped by
                                           President Franklin Roosevelt to head the effort at
                                           conquering polio, then called "infantile paralysis."
                                           According to the way Cantor told the story, Roosevelt
                                           wanted to get together a thousand people, each to donate
                                           a thousand dollars, to amass a seed fund of a million
                                           dollars to begin the fight. "Mr. President," Cantor said,
                                           "why not ask ten million people to each send in a dime?
                                           You could conquer infantile paralysis with a March of
                                           Dimes!" And that was the beginning of this famous
                                           charity.

                                           One of Cantor's trademark songs, If You Knew Susie,
                                           was actually introduced by Al Jolson! Jolson's picture
                                           appears on the cover of early editions of the sheet music
                                           of Susie, but Al didn't think the song suited his style.
                                           After Cantor exploded with the song as such a hit, Jolson
                                           swore he'd never give Cantor another song.