From the Footlights to the Tenderloin

The Tragic Life of Actress Edna Loftus


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About the Book

In her early 20s, Edna Loftus had the world at her feet. As a showgirl in England and France during the Edwardian era, she appeared in many successful theater productions, regularly graced the pages of contemporary magazines, and was featured on numerous picture postcards. She hobnobbed with royalty and kept company with the crème de la crème of European society. Then fate seemingly turned on Edna. After two unsuccessful marriages (the second ending with her husband being incarcerated in an asylum), she was left alone in California, and her decline into poverty and prostitution became fodder for the newspapers which had once sung her praises. By the time of her death in her early 30s, Edna was “a pathetic figure pointed out as a bit of a curiosity because she once had been famous on two continents.”
Edna Loftus was very much a product of her times. It was not simply a matter of bad choices on Edna’s part which led to her dissolution, but also the institutionalized socio-cultural constructs of patriarchy, classism, and religious intolerance of the Edwardian Era. This biography, the first ever written about Edna, examines how these factors played into her descent from the sparkling footlights of the European theaters to the red lights of San Francisco’s infamous Tenderloin District and destroyed her in the end.

About the Author(s)

David Grassé is an assistant library director in Payson, Arizona. He has previously published three books and numerous articles about Arizona Territorial history as well as several journal and newspaper articles about the Old West.

Bibliographic Details

David Grassé
Format: softcover (6 x 9)
Pages: 192
Bibliographic Info: 55 photos, notes, bibliography, index
Copyright Date: 2024
pISBN: 978-1-4766-9488-7
eISBN: 978-1-4766-5288-7
Imprint: McFarland

Table of Contents

Acknowledgments vi
Prologue 1
Chapter One. Origins 11
Chapter Two. The High Life 16
Chapter Three. Enter Harry Rheinstrom 44
Chapter Four. Into the West 84
Chapter Five. Spiraling Downward 120
Chapter Six. Dissipation and Death 139
Chapter Notes 171
Bibliography 180
Index 181