June 2016
Behind the photograph: Eddie Cantor and the Albertina Rasch girls

Eddie Cantor and Albertina Rasch girls

Recently Olivia Tiomkin picked up I Blow My Own Horn, the autobiography of the American pioneer motion picture producer Jesse Lasky. Back in 1916, Lasky merged his company, Jesse L. Lasky Feature Play Company, with Adolph Zukor’s Famous Players Film Company and Paramount Pictures. Today, Paramount is one of the oldest surviving film studios in the world.

During his lifetime Lasky counted himself among the power brokers of Hollywood, alongside MGM chief Louis B. Mayer; producer and actor Douglas Fairbanks; and his brother-in-law, producer Samuel Goldwyn.

Lasky recalled the following in his 1957 book.


Weekends overflowed with guests, and there were always private showings of the latest pictures, exchanged among Mayer, Fairbanks, Goldwyn, and myself, all of us having projection rooms. When we really threw a party, the roster of entertainment would have done credit to a charity benefit. I remember one we had with Abe Lyman’s band playing for a ballet by the Albertina Rasch dancing troupe on the beach against a background of breakers, and Eddie Cantor emceeing impromptu numbers by Maurice Chevalier, Charlie Chaplin, Jeanette MacDonald, Elsie Janis, and Eddie Goulding among others.


When we first came across this image by photographer Lansing Brown, we believed it depicted an Eddie Cantor imposter because we couldn’t find any evidence of Cantor performing with the Rasch troupe. We still don’t know the occasion of the photograph, but it appears more likely that it is indeed Eddie Cantor.


I Blow My Own Horn by Jesse Lasky, with Don Weldon (Doubleday, 1957).

(Eighth in an occasional series featuring rare or unusual photographs.)

7. Behind the photograph: Hollywood portfolio, Dimitri Tiomkin

6. Behind the photograph: The Great Waltz

5. Behind the photograph: Leonard Liebling

4. Behind the photograph: Rhapsody in Blue

3. Behind the photograph: Hairston and Tiomkin

2. Behind the photograph: Tansman and Tiomkin

1. Behind the photograph (Dimitri Tiomkin with His Excellency the High Commissioner for Kenya, Mr. Ng-Ethe Njoroge and Mrs. Njoroge at the London premiere of Tchaikovsky)


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