SAG-AFTRA Summer 2012

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Snapshot by Valerie Yaros Eddie Cantor on the set of Ali Baba Goes to Town in the summer of 1937, with Louise "Gypsy Rose Lee" Hovick. EDDIE CANTOR: SAG-AF(T)RA PRESIDENT S 64 SAG-AFTRA | Summer 2012 | Radio Artists share a superstar president in creen Actors Guild and the American Federation of Television and Morgan stepped aside aſter three months). Cantor also lent his fame and union experience to the American Federation of Radio Artists (AFRA) when it was chartered in New York 75 years ago, on August 16, 1937, the day he was also elected its first president. He first proved his union mettle in 1919 at 27 years old; he was elected to the council of the Actors' Equity Association, then braved the wrath of the great Broadway impresario Florenz Ziegfeld by walking out of the Ziegfeld Follies of 1919 in Equity's first strike. In 1933, when the 3-month- old Screen Actors Guild asked for Cantor's support, he gave it without hesitation and served as president from 1933-35. Screen honor of becoming the second president of SAG (when Ralph motion picture and radio star accepted the name" in October 1933, this their early history: Eddie Cantor. A "household Actors Guild signed its first contract on May 15, 1937, and in July of that year Cantor began filming Ali Baba Goes to Town (above) at 20th Century-Fox, his first SAG-signatory project. A month later, he was elected AFRA president. Screen Guild Magazine of September 1937 praised Cantor, declaring, "At the helm of AFRA is Eddie Cantor, the unanimous choice for first president. Eddie's qualities of leadership, his unrivaled reputation as a distinguished radio artist, his enthusiasm to help his fellow professionals make his selection as president a benefit to AFRA, as was his presidency of the Guild, which will live forever." His name still lives on at New York's SAG-AFTRA office at 260 Madison Avenue, where meetings take place in the Eddie Cantor Boardroom. On Sept. 16, 1952, the now former SAG and AFTRA president Cantor was honored in Los Angeles as Citizen of the Year by The Guardians of the Jewish Home for the Aged for his "outstanding citizenship," blood-bank work for Korean War troops, war bond sales and building up American morale. Five days later, AFRA merged with the Television Authority (TvA), a trusteeship of the Associated Actors and Artistes of America, and Cantor's union had a new name: the American Federation of Television and Radio Artists – AFTRA.

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