Sunday, August 21, 2011

MAGPIE TALE: Show Me State Show Biz

Another Magpie Tale

It was a muggy Tuesday in mid-August of 1947 when the three Blodgetts packed up the Studebaker, ready to seek their fame and fortune in show business and leave Sedalia behind forever.
The show biz bug ran deep in their family, going back to their maternal great-uncles, the Sauntering Steinbergs who were the toast of Jefferson City where the performed to sold out houses at the Tivoli Terrace Theatre in 1897. They toured upper Missouri and lower Iowa for six years, performing at union halls and synagogues. They felt they had hit paydirt when they signed an exclusive contract with the Odd Fellows lodges in early 1903, only to be devastated that fall when they had to turn down a chance to headline at the Rotary Convention in Kansas City. They went downhill after that and blamed it on not having a good agent.
No other successful acts came out of Sedalia unless you counted Dorinda and Dorenza Walker who were better known for their shoplifting sprees and were now serving time at the women's correctional facility in Monette.

After the Steinbergs broke up, the eldest brother Sheldon had a modest "performance" career as the Santa for the V. Payne and Cooke department stores.

Satchel, the fourth brother, moved to Chichicastenango, where he headed a bizarre Kabbalahistic cult that was known for brutal sacrifices of grasshoppers.
Growing up, the Blodgetts spent summer night dreaming up their future in show business and remembering their great- uncles' mantra, "Be sure to get a good agent."
That's why that the moment they arrived in St. Louis, they went to the office of T. Everett "Buddy" Aronow. Buddy had a reputation of not suffering fools lightly. He was gruff and tough, but he was the most savvy agent between the Mississippi and the Rockies, and once he took you under his wing, your future was set.
Buddy's fortunes had never been riper than right now, thanks to his management of the La Croix Sisters who had recently relocated from Montreal to St. Louis. It was an open secret that buddy was grooming Genevieve (second from left) for a solo career, and there was already a subtle shift with the recent rebranding of the act as Genevieve and the Sisters La Croix. It was obvious that Genevieve was a beauty, but critics and audiences alike agreed that it was Florence La Croix that was the one with real talent.
But Buddy seemed to be blind to these realities, and he was already investing in a major movie career launch for Genevieve, the first Technicolor musical featuring a French Canadian poodle to be shot in Missouri. Elaborate sets, including a castle in which Genevieve would perform the opening number "I've Got a Bone to Pick with You", were being constructed in Florissant.

It was into this tense and dramatic fabric the Blodgetts entered as they walked up the five flights of stairs to Buddy's office where they entered and he snarled, "So what makes you kids think you've got the stuff for show biz?"



At 10:42 PM, Blogger Celeste Bergin said...

LOL LOL! superb! I really enjoyed this....great photos to accompany the story :)


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