The Seven Little Foys (1955)

92-93 or 95 mins | Biography | July 1955

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HISTORY

The working titles of this film were The Eddie Foy Story and Eddie Foy and the Seven Little Foys . Most of the opening credits are preceded by the scene depicting the Foys’s Christmas Day debut at the Palace Theatre. The title cards read: “Bob Hope as Eddie Foy in The Seven Little Foys .” Music credits include the notation: “Featuring the songs sung by Eddie Foy.”
       Eddie Foy, born Edwin Fitzgerald in 1856, began his show business career as a child, singing and dancing in the streets of New York and Chicago in support of his family. In the late 1870s, he began touring western mining camps and cow towns, including Tombstone, where he performed for legendary lawmen Bat Masterson and Wyatt Earp. He returned to Chicago in 1888 as a comic headliner in revues and variety shows. As depicted in the film, on 30 Dec 1903, while appearing in the musical Mr. Blue Beard at Chicago’s Iroquois Theatre, Foy helped battle a fire that claimed 600 lives, urging the panicked audience to remain calm. Foy first appeared on the vaudeville stage with his seven children in Aug 1912; in 1913, the family undertook their first regular tour. Unlike in the film, the family act was not created as a result of the death of Foy’s wife, Madeleine Morando Foy. Madeleine, who was actually Foy’s third wife, travelled with the act, along with a nurse and a governess, until her death in 1918. The Foy Family, who were based in New Rochelle, NY, toured the vaudeville circuit for ten years, enjoying great ... More Less

The working titles of this film were The Eddie Foy Story and Eddie Foy and the Seven Little Foys . Most of the opening credits are preceded by the scene depicting the Foys’s Christmas Day debut at the Palace Theatre. The title cards read: “Bob Hope as Eddie Foy in The Seven Little Foys .” Music credits include the notation: “Featuring the songs sung by Eddie Foy.”
       Eddie Foy, born Edwin Fitzgerald in 1856, began his show business career as a child, singing and dancing in the streets of New York and Chicago in support of his family. In the late 1870s, he began touring western mining camps and cow towns, including Tombstone, where he performed for legendary lawmen Bat Masterson and Wyatt Earp. He returned to Chicago in 1888 as a comic headliner in revues and variety shows. As depicted in the film, on 30 Dec 1903, while appearing in the musical Mr. Blue Beard at Chicago’s Iroquois Theatre, Foy helped battle a fire that claimed 600 lives, urging the panicked audience to remain calm. Foy first appeared on the vaudeville stage with his seven children in Aug 1912; in 1913, the family undertook their first regular tour. Unlike in the film, the family act was not created as a result of the death of Foy’s wife, Madeleine Morando Foy. Madeleine, who was actually Foy’s third wife, travelled with the act, along with a nurse and a governess, until her death in 1918. The Foy Family, who were based in New Rochelle, NY, toured the vaudeville circuit for ten years, enjoying great popularity during World War I. Foy died in 1928.
       Foy appeared in two films--by himself in Vitagraph’s 1910 film Actors’ Fund Field Day (see AFI Catalog. Film Beginnings, 1893-1910 ) and with his children in a 1915 Mack Sennett short, A Favorite Fool . Foy’s oldest son, Bryan “Brynie” Foy (1896—1977), became a successful film director and producer. Eddie, Jr. (1905—1983) continued in show business as a stage and film actor. Foy, Sr.'s youngest child, and his last surviving offspring, was Irving, who died in 2003. Foy’s grandson, Eddie Foy III, made his screen acting debut in 1955 and later became a casting director. Eddie, Jr. played his father in the 1939 Twentieth Century-Fox release Frontier Marshal , reenacting Foy’s reputed encounter with Wyatt Earp (see AFI Catalog of Feature Films, 1931-40 ), and in the 1943 Warner Bros. film Yankee Doodle Dandy , a biography of George M. Cohan, which starred James Cagney as the famed entertainer and songwriter (see AFI Catalog of Feature Films, 1941-50 ). Cagney recreated the Cohan role in The Seven Little Foys .
       The Seven Little Foys marked the first time that Hope had starred in a film biography, and the first time he impersonated a “song-and-dance man.” It also marked the producing debut of Jack Rose and the directing debut of Melville Shavelson (1917--2007). Rose and Shavelson had been Hope’s radio gagmen, as well as successful screenwriters, and according to modern sources, approached Hope with the idea of starring in a Foy biography. Hope Enterprises, which co-produced with Paramount and Rose and Shavelson’s company Scribe Productions, negotiated for a forty-four percent cut of the film’s profits, according to modern sources. In addition to Charley Foy, who narrates the picture, Hope consulted with Bryan and Eddie, Jr. prior to making The Seven Little Foys . Contemporary sources note that Eddie, Jr., who was starring in the Broadway production of The Pajama Game at the time of production, was originally to do the narration. Several reviews incorrectly credit him as narrator.
       Modern sources state that Cagney took the part of Cohan as a favor to Hope (and to lose weight) and performed without contract, or compensation. One modern source claims that Cagney refused pay because the Foy family had befriended him when he was a struggling actor and Cagney wanted to return the kindness. Hope rehearsed extensively with Cagney on their dance routine. HR news items and production charts add the following actors to the cast: Don Harvey, Fred Sweeney, Philo McCullough, Paul MacWilliams, Rex Moore, Nick Borgani, Harlan Hoagland, John Marlin, Thomas F. Martin , Frank Meservy, Frank Baker, James Gray, Kenneth Gibson, Raoul Freeman, Wallace Dean , Jack Deery, Dan Dowling and David Kasday. The appearance of the these actors in the final film has not been confirmed. Location shooting took place in Sierra Madre, CA, according to an Aug 1954 HR news item.
       The film’s 1 Jun 1955 world premiere in Sydney, Australia, and its premiere in Los Angeles were benefits for the Cerebral Palsy Fund, according to HR news items. The Seven Little Foys was nominated for a Best Writing (Story and Screenplay) Academy Award. In late Jan 1964, the NBC television network broadcast The Seven Little Foys , a second version of the story, starring Eddie Foy, Jr. as his father, Mickey Rooney as Cohan and four Osmond Brothers as Foy children. George Tobias recreated his role as “Barney Green” for the television broadcast. More Less

GEOGRAPHIC LOCATIONS
SOURCE CITATIONS
SOURCE
DATE
PAGE
Box Office
28 May 1955.
---
Daily Variety
1 Nov 1954.
---
Daily Variety
26 May 55
p. 3.
Film Daily
31 May 55
p. 6.
Hollywood Citizen-News
7 Aug 1954.
---
Hollywood Reporter
29 Jul 1954
p. 6, 8.
Hollywood Reporter
2 Aug 1954
p. 2.
Hollywood Reporter
5 Aug 1954
p. 6.
Hollywood Reporter
10 Aug 1954
p. 2.
Hollywood Reporter
11 Aug 1954
p. 3.
Hollywood Reporter
19 Aug 1954
p. 6.
Hollywood Reporter
24 Aug 1954
p. 9.
Hollywood Reporter
27 Aug 1954
p. 13.
Hollywood Reporter
24 Sep 1954
p. 1, 12.
Hollywood Reporter
26 May 55
p. 3.
Hollywood Reporter
1 Jun 1955
p. 3.
Hollywood Reporter
20 Jun 1955
p. 9.
Los Angeles Examiner
24 Jun 1955.
---
Motion Picture Herald Product Digest
4 Jun 55
p. 466.
New York Times
30 Jun 55
p. 18.
Newsweek
18 Jul 1955.
---
Variety
1 Jun 55
p. 6.
CAST
PRODUCTION CREDITS
NAME
PARENT COMPANY
DISTRIBUTION COMPANY
NAME
CREDITED AS
CREDIT
DIRECTORS
Asst dir
Asst dir
Dial coach
PRODUCERS
Prod
Prod assoc
WRITERS
Wrt for the screen by
Wrt for the screen by
PHOTOGRAPHY
Dir of photog
2d cam
Asst cam
ART DIRECTORS
Art dir
Art dir
FILM EDITOR
SET DECORATORS
Set dec
Set dec
COSTUMES
Cost
MUSIC
Mus scored and cond
VISUAL EFFECTS
Spec photog eff
DANCE
Choreog
MAKEUP
Makeup supv
PRODUCTION MISC
Tech adv
Prod mgr
Scr supv
STAND INS
Dance double
COLOR PERSONNEL
Technicolor col consultant
SOURCES
MUSIC
"Yankee Doodle Dandy" by George M. Cohan.
SONGS
"Nobody," words by Alex Rogers, music by Bert Williams
"I'm Tired" and "Chinatown," words by William Jerome, music by Jean Schwartz
"I'm the Greatest Father of Them All," words and music by William Jerome, Eddie Foy and Joseph J. Lilley
+
SONGS
"Nobody," words by Alex Rogers, music by Bert Williams
"I'm Tired" and "Chinatown," words by William Jerome, music by Jean Schwartz
"I'm the Greatest Father of Them All," words and music by William Jerome, Eddie Foy and Joseph J. Lilley
"Mary's a Grand Old Name," words and music by George M. Cohan
"Row, Row, Row," words by William Jerome, music by James V. Monaco.
+
DETAILS
Alternate Titles:
Eddie Foy and the Seven Little Foys
The Eddie Foy Story
Release Date:
July 1955
Premiere Information:
World premiere in Sydney, Australia: 1 June 1955
Los Angeles opening: week of 23 June 1955
New York opening: 29 June 1955
Production Date:
2 August--late September 1954
Copyright Claimant:
Hope Enterprises, Inc. & Scribe Productions
Copyright Date:
1 July 1955
Copyright Number:
LP5083
Physical Properties:
Sound
Western Electric Recording
Color
Technicolor
Widescreen/ratio
VistaVision Motion Picture High-Fidelity
Duration(in mins):
92-93 or 95
Length(in feet):
10
Country:
United States
Language:
English
PCA No:
17278
Passed by NBR:
No
SYNOPSIS

On Christmas Day, in 1913, entertainer Eddie Foy and his seven children—Bryan, Charley, Richard, Mary, Madeleine, Eddie, Jr. and Irving—perform for the first time at New York’s celebrated Palace Theatre. As they sing and dance, Charley, Eddie’s second child, recounts how the family got its start: One night, in 1898, while performing as a solo act in a revue, Eddie learns that influential talent agent Barney Green has come to check out his act as a possible addition to the Palace’s line-up. Anxious, Eddie, who views women as impediments to show business success, refuses to switch dressing rooms with newly arrived Italian classical dancer Madeleine Morando and her accompanist, sister Clara, despite Madeleine’s flirtations. When the Morandos take repeated encores, threatening to drive the bored Barney out of the theater, Eddie joins them on stage, turning their serious presentation into a comedy. Barney laughs hysterically at Eddie’s impromptu lampoon and, after the show, offers him a four-week contract. Eddie is overjoyed until Barney reveals that the offer is valid only if the Morandos become part of his act. Desperate to play the Palace, Eddie invites Madeleine to dinner and plies her with champagne. Before he can broach the subject of the contract, however, Barney shows up and, assuming that Madeleine already knows about it, mentions the deal. Infuriated, Madeleine storms out of the restaurant, followed by Eddie. Although Eddie apologizes and admits his attraction to Madeleine, kissing her, the two part ways. While Eddie tours the West, Madeleine returns to Italy with Clara. Sometime later, in San Francisco, Eddie receives a letter from Madeleine, informing him of her ... +


On Christmas Day, in 1913, entertainer Eddie Foy and his seven children—Bryan, Charley, Richard, Mary, Madeleine, Eddie, Jr. and Irving—perform for the first time at New York’s celebrated Palace Theatre. As they sing and dance, Charley, Eddie’s second child, recounts how the family got its start: One night, in 1898, while performing as a solo act in a revue, Eddie learns that influential talent agent Barney Green has come to check out his act as a possible addition to the Palace’s line-up. Anxious, Eddie, who views women as impediments to show business success, refuses to switch dressing rooms with newly arrived Italian classical dancer Madeleine Morando and her accompanist, sister Clara, despite Madeleine’s flirtations. When the Morandos take repeated encores, threatening to drive the bored Barney out of the theater, Eddie joins them on stage, turning their serious presentation into a comedy. Barney laughs hysterically at Eddie’s impromptu lampoon and, after the show, offers him a four-week contract. Eddie is overjoyed until Barney reveals that the offer is valid only if the Morandos become part of his act. Desperate to play the Palace, Eddie invites Madeleine to dinner and plies her with champagne. Before he can broach the subject of the contract, however, Barney shows up and, assuming that Madeleine already knows about it, mentions the deal. Infuriated, Madeleine storms out of the restaurant, followed by Eddie. Although Eddie apologizes and admits his attraction to Madeleine, kissing her, the two part ways. While Eddie tours the West, Madeleine returns to Italy with Clara. Sometime later, in San Francisco, Eddie receives a letter from Madeleine, informing him of her impending marriage to an Italian admirer. Eddie races to the La Scala in Milan, where Madeleine is rehearsing, and after much hesitation, proposes. Madeleine happily accepts and agrees to join Eddie’s act with Clara, but when they arrive in New York after the honeymoon, Clara tells Eddie that his wife is pregnant and cannot perform. Despite the setback to his career, Eddie takes the news in stride, and seven months later, Bryan, nicknamed “Brynie,” is born. Eddie continues his touring vaudeville act, but after Madeleine reveals that she is expecting another child, decides to “settle down” by joining the cast of a play. Later, Eddie and five-old-year Brynie are backstage at the Iroqouis Theatre in Chicago, where Eddie is starring in Mr. Blue Beard , when a fire breaks out. After making sure Brynie is safe, Eddie goes on stage to calm the panicked audience and is hailed as a hero for his efforts. Eddie then is cast in a series of Broadway shows, and Madeleine gives birth to five more children. Fulfilling Madeleine’s dream of living in the country, Eddie buys the family a large but rundown house in rural New Rochelle, New York, and presents his wife with an engagement ring. Madeleine is moved by the gesture and does not complain when Eddie hurries back to the city to perform in a George M. Cohan tribute. Clara and the children, however, criticize Eddie for neglecting his parental duties and indulging in his personal ambitions. Later, after Eddie resumes touring, Madeleine falls gravely ill but chooses not to tell Eddie about her condition. Upon returning to New York, Eddie learns that Cohan is honoring him with a Friars Club “Father of the Year” award and goes to the dinner instead of home. After dancing on the table tops with Cohan, Eddie heads for New Rochelle and is devastated when a priest informs him that Madeleine died earlier that day. Six months later, Barney visits Eddie in New Rochelle and chastises him for spoiling his now wild children and abandoning the stage. Determined to revive Eddie’s career, Barney announces he has booked an engagement and suggests Eddie add his children to his act. Eddie is skeptical, especially after watching his untrained children try to sing and dance, but spends the next several weeks coaching them. Eddie Foy and the Seven Little Foys are an instant success, and Eddie arranges a tutor for them while they tour the country. Clara, however, disapproves of the vagabond life style and begs Eddie to take the children home for Christmas. Eddie agrees but Barney later announces that he has booked the family at the Palace, beginning Christmas Day. Eddie refuses to give up the long-coveted engagement, and despite Clara’s and the children’s resentment, the Foys perform on Christmas Day. Unknown to Eddie, Clara has brought agents from the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children to the show, and afterward, Eddie is hauled into New York’s Children’s Court. Confronted with a local law that prohibits children from entertaining for money, Eddie pleads guilty, but states that he was merely teaching his children the only profession he knows. The children jump up to defend Eddie, declaring that they love show business and their father, and while touched by their sentiment, the judge maintains that Eddie nevertheless violated the law. To prove the judge wrong, the children sing and dance terribly, and after conceding that their performance cannot be deemed entertainment, the judge drops the charges. Later, in New Rochelle, Eddie shocks the town when he joins Clara and his children at Sunday Mass for the very first time. +

Legend
Viewed by AFI
Partially Viewed
Offscreen Credit
Name Occurs Before Title
AFI Life Achievement Award

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