When Gwen Verdon finally secured the rights to Chicago (1975), she left it up to Fosse, Kander, and Ebb to create what they had all envisioned as a “musical vaudeville” theme for the show. The main characters were all derived from early Broadway, and Vaudeville personalities of the day. The role of the matron Mama Morton was created around a particularly famous lady who had appeared in Vaudeville since an early age, as well as five Broadway shows. Who was she??
Scroll past Chicago‘s film version Mamma Morton, Queen Latifah in a truly vaudeville inspired “When You’re Good To Mama”:
Sophie Tucker, who’s famous number was entitled “Got To See Mama” was the model for Fosse, Kander, and Ebb’s matron Mama Morton in Chicago. In addition to the vaudeville circuit, Tucker appaeared in 5 Broadway shows including Cole Porter’s Leave It To Me!. A musical version of Tucker’s life was realized in 1963’s (flop) Sophie.
Click below to watch Sophie Tucker live in London (1930):