The Great Ziegfeld Overview:

The Great Ziegfeld (1936) was a Biographical - Drama Film directed by Robert Z. Leonard and produced by Hunt Stromberg and Sidney Algier.


The Best Picture of 1936 still sets a high standard for grand musicals. The larger-than-life career of stage genius Florenz Ziegfeld (Powell, in a winning performance) is aptly celebrated in this marvelous musical biography. The colorful story and all-star cast are bolstered by a catalog of nostalgic hit songs, including "If You Knew Susie," "Shine On, Harvest Moon," and "A Pretty Girl Is Like a Melody."

(Source: available at Amazon AMC Classic Movie Companion).


Academy Awards 1936 --- Ceremony Number 9 (source: AMPAS)

Best ActressLuise RainerWon
Best Art DirectionCedric Gibbons, Eddie Imazu, Edwin B. WillisNominated
Best DirectorRobert Z. LeonardNominated
Best Film EditingWilliam S. GrayNominated
Best PictureMetro-Goldwyn-MayerWon
Best WritingWilliam Anthony McGuireNominated

BlogHub Articles:

THE GREAT ZIEGFELD BLOGATHON: Flo, Irving, and the Follies

on May 14, 2020 From Caftan Woman

Zoe at Hollywood Genes is hosting The Great Ziegfeld Blogathon on May 15 - 17. Follies star Fanny Brice Legendary impresario Florenz Ziegfeld Jr. (1867-1932) was brought up with an appreciation of culture from his Belgium and German immigrant parents. Flo's American roots gave him the energet... Read full article

Musical Monday: The Great Ziegfeld (1936)

on Dec 2, 2019 From Comet Over Hollywood

It?s no secret that the Hollywood Comet loves musicals. In 2010, I revealed I had seen 400 movie musicals over the course of eight years. Now that number is over 600. To celebrate and share this musical love, here is my weekly feature about musicals. This week?s musical: The Great Ziegfeld (1936) ? ... Read full article

The Great Ziegfeld Telephone Scene with Luise Rainer

By Amanda Garrett on Jan 3, 2015 From Old Hollywood Films

The late Luise Rainer's most famous moment on screen is this brief scene from The Great Ziegfeld (1936). Rainer plays Anna Held, the common-law wife of Broadway showman Florenz Zeigfeld (William Powell). She literally smiles through her tears while telephoning Ziegfeld to congratulate him on his sec... Read full article

The Great Ziegfeld (1936) (2)

By Beatrice on Aug 27, 2013 From Flickers in Time

The Great Ziegfeld Directed by Robert Z. Leonard Written by William Anthony McGuire 1936/USA Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Repeat viewing This extravagant musical biopic won Oscars for Best Production, Best Actress (Louise Ranier), and Best Dance Direction (“A Pretty Girl Is Like a Melody”) and ... Read full article

Classic Films in Focus: THE GREAT ZIEGFELD (1936)

By Jennifer Garlen on Aug 5, 2013 From Virtual Virago

Directed by Robert Z. Leonard, The Great Ziegfeld (1936) is a lavish musical tribute to the legendary Broadway producer, with all the whistles, bells, and gorgeous girls that Ziegfeld himself could want, even if it does takes certain liberties with the facts of Ziegfeld’s life. Hollywood had a... Read full article

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Quotes from

Hotel doorman: Do you realize you gave me five pounds?
Florenz Ziegfeld Jr.: Yes, I'm trying to lose weight.

Florenz Ziegfeld Jr.: [after he has hired Jack Billings' valet away from him] Gentlemen never argue about gentlemen's gentlemen.

Anna Held: [on the phone with Ziegfeld after learning of his marriage to Billie Burke] Hello, Flo... Yes. Here's Anna... I'm so happy for you today, I could not help calling you and congratulate you... Wonderful, Flo! Never better in my whole life!... I'm so excited about my new plans! I'm going to Paris... Yes, for a few weeks, and then I can get back, and then I'm doing a new show, and... Oh, it's all so wonderful! I'm so happy!... Yes... And I hope you are happy, too... Yes?... Oh, I'm so glad for you, Flo... Sounds funny for ex-husband and ex-wife to tell how happy they are, oui?... Yes, Flo... Goodbye, Flo... Goodbye...
[She hangs up]
Anna Held: Darling...
[she falls to her bed, sobbing]
Marie: My poor, petite! If you love him so, why did you divorce him?
Anna Held: Because I thought it would bring him back to me. I was sure that it would bring him back to me.
[she cries]

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Facts about

Eugen Sandow is portrayed as a typically "dumb strongman". In real life, however, Sandow was highly intelligent and a superb businessman. Because he was among the first men to display his muscular body as a "work of art", he was considered to be the "Father of Bodybuilding" and this is what his gravestone reads today. Among his friends were Sir 'Arthur Conan Doyle', Thomas A. Edison (who filmed him at the Black Maria Studios) and even King Edward VII. Sandow's career became bigger than ever after his association with Ziegfeld. He became very wealthy and famous because of his mail-order businesses, gyms, souvenir photographs, books and personal appearances. There is a mountain in Alaska, a railroad and a small town in Texas (near Austin) named after him.
Universal Pictures bought the film rights to Ziefeld's life story from his widow Billie Burke in late 1933. William Powell was to play Florenz Ziegfeld Jr., Billie Burke was to play herself, and it would feature specialties by Fanny Brice, Judy Garland (and her sisters), Eddie Cantor and Ray Bolger. When Universal decided to make a faithful film version of the Kern-Hammerstein musical "Show Boat", which Ziegfeld himself had originally produced onstage, the studio heads sold "The Great Ziegfeld" to MGM in March 1935 while still in pre-production. Only Powell, Brice and Bolger survived to the final picture. Ironically, MGM would buy the rights to "Show Boat" from Universal in 1942, and remake the musical, in Technicolor, in 1951.
A.A. Trimble, who portrays Will Rogers in the film, was actually a Cleveland map salesman who frequently impersonated Rogers at Rotarian lunches.
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Best Picture Oscar 1936

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Also directed by Robert Z. Leonard

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