Women Vaudeville Stars

Eighty Biographical Profiles

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About the Book

Here are the stories of 80 women who were among the top vaudeville acts in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, when entertainment was often live variety shows in theaters across the country. Singers, singer-comediennes, comediennes, dancers, sister acts, actresses, male impersonators and novelty acts are covered as separate categories. Biographies of the performers in each category appear in order of the date they entered vaudeville, an arrangement that allows the reader to trace the history of vaudeville itself. A final section concentrates on the headliners’ heritage, taking a broad look at the group according to ethnic background, socioeconomic background, family life, and other factors, including what happened to them after vaudeville died.

About the Author(s)

The late Armond Fields was a social historian specializing in American popular theater. The author of numerous books about vaudeville and other early theater figures, he lived in Culver City, California.

Bibliographic Details

Armond Fields
Format: softcover (7 x 10)
Pages: 279
Bibliographic Info: 81 photos, bibliography, index
Copyright Date: 2012 [2006]
pISBN: 978-0-7864-6916-1
Imprint: McFarland

Table of Contents

Acknowledgments      v
Introduction: Women in Vaudeville      1
About the Arrangement of This Book      11

PART ONE : THE SINGERS
Maggie Cline      13
Lottie Gilson      16
Eva Tanguay      18
Anna Held      22
Stella Mayhew      25
Bonnie Thornton      28
Vesta Victoria      30
Ada Reeve      33
Emma Carus      35
Blanche Ring      38
Grace La Rue      42
Yvette Guilbert      45
Nora Bayes      47
Marion Bent      51
Ethel Levey      53
Louise Dresser      56
Blossom Seeley      59
Aileen Stanley      63
Texas Guinan      65
Lillian Russell      69
Florence Mills      73
Rae Samuels      77
Alice Lloyd      80
Bessie Wynn      82
Ruth Roye      85
Sophie Tucker      87
Belle Baker      92
Olga Petrova      95
Ethel Waters      98
Frederike “Fritzi” Scheff      102
Irene Bordoni      105
Isabelle Patricola      109
Adelaide Hall      110
Ruth Etting      114

PART TWO : THE SINGER-COMEDIENNES
Irene Franklin      118
Fay Templeton      121
Marie Dressler      125
Ina Claire      130
Trixie Friganza      132
Mae West      136
Molly Picon      140
Marie Cahill      142

PART THREE : THE COMEDIENNES
May Irwin      147
Cissie Loftus      151
Kate Elinore      154
Elsie Janis      157
Florence Moore      162
Nan Halperin      164
Fanny Brice      168
Winnie Lightner      172

PART FOUR : THE DANCERS
La Carmencita      176
Bessie Clayton      177
Ruth St. Denis      181
Bessie McCoy      186
Gertrude Hoffman      189
Florence Walton      192
Gertrude Vanderbilt      195
Adele Astaire      199
Mlle. Dazie      202
Charlotte Greenwood      204
Janette Hackett      208
Irene Castle      210

PART FIVE : THE SISTER ACTS
The Cherry Sisters      214
The Dolly Sisters      216
The Duncan Sisters      220
The Hilton Sisters      224

PART SIX : THE ACTRESSES
Valeska Suratt      226
Fannie Ward      229
Mrs. Patrick Campbell      231
Ethel Barrymore      233
Sarah Bernhardt      235
Fifi D’Orsay      237

PART SEVEN : THE MALE IMPERSONATORS
Vesta Tilley      240
Ella Shields      242
Kitty Doner      244

PART EIGHT : THE NOVELTY ACTS
Anna Eva Fay      247
Carrie Nation      249
Annette Kellerman      251
Evelyn Nesbit      254
Helen Keller      257

PART NINE : HEADLINERS’ HERITAGE      259
Selected Bibliography and Source Materials      265
Index      269

Book Reviews & Awards

“a must…highly informative”—ARBA; “well researched…insightful examination. This is one book you won’t easily put down”—In the Groove Magazine; “provides a missing link in the history of American theater”—Feminist Collections; “for more than a decade, Mr. Fields has blessed showbiz aficionados with a series of exceptional biographies”—Vaudeville Times.