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Edward Israel Iskowitz (a.k.a. Eddie Cantor) Passes Away

Today in Masonic History Edward Israel Iskowitz (a.k.a. Eddie Cantor) passes away in 1964.

Edward Israel Iskowitz (a.k.a. Eddie Cantor) was an American comedian and entertainer.

Iskowitz (here after referred to as Cantor) was born in New York City, New York. It is believed that he was born sometime around September 21st, 1892, although it is unclear when he was actually born. When he was a year old, his mother passed away during childbirth. At two years old his father passed away from pneumonia. Cantor was raised by his maternal grandmother Esther Kantrowitz. He became Cantor when his grandmother signed him up for school and accidentally gave her last name. It was further shortened by the clerk who enrolled Cantor to "Kantor."

In Cantor's teens, he began winning local talent competitions. He appeared on stage regularly. His first paying job occured at a Coney Island Saloon where he worked as a waiter and singer.

In 1907 Cantor began appearing in Vaudeville. In 1912 he became the only performer over the age of 20 who appeared in Gus Edward's Kid Kaberet. He starred in a variety of Vaudeville acts and Broadway plays. In 1917, he signed a contract with Florenz Ziegfeld to appear in Ziegfeld's Follies. Cantor appeared in the Ziegfeld's Follies for a decade and Ziegfeld became something of a father figure to Cantor. Ziegfeld became angry with Cantor, when Cantor got involved in the Actors Equity strike in 1919 which led to the forming of one of the first actors unions. In 1933, Cantor became the second president of the Screen Actors Guild.

In 1922, Cantor appeared on his first radio program. He became a permanent fixture on radio until the 1950's. He appeared on or hosted a variety of radio programs. For a brief period in 1939, Cantor lost his sponsor, Camel Cigarettes and which took him off the air. He lost his sponsor when he came out and denounced Father Charles Coughlin. Coughlin was a catholic priest who used his radio program to spread his antisemitic message. At one point Coughlin used the program to support some of the policies of Hitler and Mussolini. It was more than likely this last action on Coughlin's part that prompted Cantor to denounce him.

During his time on radio, one of Cantor's most popular acts was the one where he spoke about his five "unmarriagable" daughters. This often caused problems at home with his five daughters who at times did not find the humor in the jokes.

While Cantor was working in radio he began, in the 1930's, making movies. He starred and appeared in numerous films. In 1944, Cantor began appearing on television as well. Eventually his likeness appeared in Warner Brother cartoons as well. Most of the time Cantor himself did not voice the character though.

Cantor passed away on October 10th, 1964 from a heart attack.

Cantor was a member of Mt. Vernon Lodge No. 4 in Providence, Rhode Island.

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