Fanny Brice’s Nose Job

In the year 1923 Fanny Brice was the talk of the town. She was the star and main attraction of Florenz Ziegfeld’s Follies, the most attended vaudeville act of tis time with the most famous attraction. Ziegfeld’s Follies was where Fanny Brice became a celebrity. Not bad for a Jewish girl who evidently suffered from image problems due to her very ethnic and large proboscis. As a comedienne on stage her nose was a perfect prop for her comic routine. At what point in her seemingly glorious life did she decide to “bob” her Jewish nose is unknown.

Barbra Streisand, a half century later, faced the same critical audiences that had persuaded the young Fanny Brice to change her Jewish appearance, but could not persuade Streisand to do the same. It was after Streisand’s brilliant performance in Funny Girl, a play about the life of Fanny Brice, that the questions about her looks began.

Fanny Brice was a prolific self-marketer and realized the national publicity her nose job would have. How she found her plastic surgeon, Dr. Henry Junius Schireson, a man of forty-two with a dubious past, questionable educational background as a doctor, and a reputation that he would operate on anything for money, remains a mystery.

For the event the media were notified and Fanny Brice had her nose bobbed in her hotel room by a quack surgeon. Her nose job was the medical event of the day and generated press attention until the birth of the Dionne quintuplets in Canada in 1934. Henry Schireson was an overnight sensation and probably the first celebrity plastic surgeon. It wasn’t too many years later that Schireson lost his medical license under a barrage of lawsuits and retired a disgraced man.

As far as Brice, she continued to be the gold standard for female comediennes, continued her ethnic Yiddish humor on stage until 1934 when she changed to radio and had an illustrious career on air where no one could see her new and improved nose.

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