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Sofi Tucker was a Ukrainian singer, comedian, actress, and radio personality who was born on January 13, 1886, in Tulchyn, Podolia Governorate Russian Empire. Her birth name is Sofya Kalish and she migrated to Boston, Massachusetts in the United States where her family went by the adopted surname Abuza. Tucker's father had deserted the Russian military and her feared repercussions so he again moved the family, this time to Hartford, Connecticut where they opened a restaurant. As a young girl, Tucker would often sing at her parent's restaurant for tips. When she turned 17, she eloped with a man named Louis Tuck. They were officially married upon their return in an Orthodox wedding. Tucker gave birth to her son Albert in 1905 but Tuck took custody of their son when they split up. Tucker made her theater debut singing at an amateur night in a vaudeville theater. She was urged to wear blackface by her producers who were afraid the audience would tease her for being overweight and ugly.
Her popularity increased throughout the 1920s and she began touring England where she performed for King George V and Queen Mary in 1926. She has married a total of three times, with the first being to Louis Tuck, the second being to Frank Westphal in 1917, and again to Al Lackey in 1928 but that marriage failed to and they were divorced in 1934. Tucker died of lung cancer on February 9, 1966, and was buried in Emanuel Cemetery, in Wethersfield, Connecticut.
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