Declaring "I'm the Last of the Red Hot Mamas" in one of her best-known songs, Sophie Tucker created a brassy, bawdy persona that made her a smashing success on the vaudeville circuit and the musical stage. Tucker was born Sonia Kalish on January 13, 1884, as her Jewish parents were fleeing Russia for Poland and, by the time Sophie was three, the United States; the family took the last name Abuza as a cover during their flight. After a spell in Boston, her parents opened a restaurant in Hartford, Connecticut, where young Sophie met many a vaudeville entertainer and picked up spare change singing for them and other customers. Sophie married a man named Louis Tuck at age 16 and had a son, Albert, a year later, at which point Tuck left her. Changing her married name to Tucker to produce her stage name, Sophie moved to New York to pursue a singing career, initially performing at small cafés and beer halls. Tucker eventually got an agent, who helped her break into vaudeville in 1906. At the behest of her handlers, she usually worked in blackface early in her career, under the logic that since she was rather generously built and plain of face, her audiences might not otherwise take to her.