Iconic photos of a changing city, and commentary on our Collections & Exhibitions from the crew at MCNY.org
Sophie Tucker was born Sonya Kalish on January 13, 1886, in Tulchin, Ukraine, then part of the Russian Empire. Several months after her birth, her family immigrated to the United States and later settled in Hartford, Connecticut.
Her parents opened a kosher restaurant and Tucker helped them out, first in the kitchen and later by waiting tables. She began singing songs as a waitress, much to the delight of customers, some of whom were Yiddish theater legends such as Jacob Adler and Bertha Kalich. In 1906, 20-year-old Tucker said goodbye to her family and departed for New York City, with dreams of becoming a big star.