Baby Snooks

Baby Snooks was born in 1912 (at the age of four) to the proud parent of twenty-one year-old Fanny Brice. And the bratty kid managed to remain the same age for nearly four decades. Fanny Brice originated the character of Baby Snooks long before she became a Ziegfeld star, or married Nicky Arnstein, or divorced Nicky Arnstein, or married Billy Rose, or divorced Billy Rose. It seems that about the only constant character in her protean life as an entertainer was Baby Snooks.

Fanny, in an interview shortly before her death:

"I first did Snooks in 1912 when I was in vaudeville. At the time there was a juvenile actress named Baby Peggy and she was very popular. Her hair was all curled and bleached and she was always in pink or blue. She looked like a strawberry ice cream soda. When I started to do Baby Snooks, I really was a baby, because when I think about Baby Snooks it's really the way I was when I was a kid. On stage, I made Snooks a caricature of Baby Peggy."

Snooks was catapulted to national attention in 1936 when Fanny introduced the bumptious brat on her NBC radio comedy hour. L'enfant terrible, whose unpredictable conduct captivated adults and kids alike, quickly became America's Favorite Nuisance. What made Baby Snooks so appealing was that she came from a normal, middle-class background with which radio listeners could easily identify.

Each week for 14 years, Fanny entered the NBC Radio studios in Hollywood. With an impish facial expression, Fanny Brice would begin her metamorphosis from a lady of fifty-four to the whining "Why-y-y, daddy?" Snooks, age four. Fanny always insisted upon no rehearsal of the Baby Snooks sequences on her hour program, holding that it gave the comedy lines a spontaneity and unpredictability that would be lost in an over-familiarity with the dialogue.

The popular entertainer, a headliner from one night stands to the Ziegfeld Follies and an international favorite, once mused:

"I've been playing to audiences for thirty years. Thirty years of hoofing, singing and clowning and I make a hit as a four year old kid. And the audience didn't even see me."

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