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Eddie Cantor


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Eddie Cantor (January 31, 1892 - October 10, 1964) was an American comedian, singer, actor, songwriter. Known to Broadway, radio and early television audiences as Banjo Eyes, this “Apostle of Pep” was regarded almost as a family member by millions because his top-rated radio shows revealed intimate stories and amusing antics about his wife Ida and five children.

Early life

Cantor was born as Isidore Itzkowitz[1] in New York City, the son of Russian Jewish immigrants, Meta and Mechel Itzkowitz. His mother died of lung cancer two years after his birth, and he was abandoned by his father, left to be raised by his grandmother, Esther Kantrowitz. A misunderstanding when signing her grandson for school gave him her last name of Kantrowitz (later Americanized to “Cantor”) instead of Itzkowitz. He adopted the first name Eddie when he met his future wife, Ida Tobias, in 1903, because she liked the idea of having a boyfriend named Eddie. The two married in 1914 and remained together until Ida died in 1962.

By his early teens. Cantor began winning talent contests at local theaters and started appearing on stage. One of his earliest paying jobs was doubling as a waiter and performer, singing for tips at Carey Walsh’s Coney Island saloon where a young Jimmy Durante accompanied him on piano.


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