The sons of a religious fanatic, the Shubert brothers from SyracuseSam, Lee, and J. J."seemed unlikely casting for the most ruthless titans in the history of American theatre," notes biographer Foster Hirsch. But since the turn of the century, the Shuberts and their heirs have exercised an unequaled power over Broadway and the road. Not until now has there been a complete account of their lives and the evolution of their business.
During their heyday from 1905 to the crash of 1929, the Shuberts presented a dozen or more shows each season in New York and twice that number on tour, featuring the most respected and sought-after stars of the day: Al Jolson, Richard Mansfield, Beatrice Lillie, Carmen Miranda, Lillian Russell, Eddie Cantor, Fanny Brice, Mae West, Fred Astaire, and the Three Stooges, among many others.
Nearly illiterate, the Shuberts conquered commercial theatre, in part because rivals saw them as malaprop-spouting yokels from Syracuse who posed no threat. They were excellent businessmen who seldom financed their enterprises with their own money and who instinctively understood star power. Although jealousy and rivalry dominated their relationships among themselves, they believed in the blood bond and stuck together when attacked from the outside.
The story of the Shuberts is an epic tale of business successes and shenanigans on an enormous scale. Embellished with original interview material, this vivid chronicle is a major contribution to the history of the American theatre and is certain to become an essential reference work.