PRETTY PRIMA DONNA: MINNIE ASHLEY

This vintage real photo postcard features theater actress Minnie Ashley (1878-1946). She was one of the great “stage beauties” of the end of the 19th century. She was a talented singer and dancer and she was featured in the madcap musical “1492” (1892). In Boston she performed with the Museum Company and in New York she was a member of the Augustin Daly Company. She had many successes including her performance in “A Country Girl”, “Wang”, and “San Troy”. Her acting resulted in a medical problem. The prolonged exposure to theatrical arc lights caused vision problems. In 1902 she left her acting career and married politician William Astor Chanler who was an affluent grandson of John Jacob Astor. Medical treatment did not help her vision problems and Miss Ashley than put her efforts into sculpting. Chanler and Ashley separated in 1909. She made an attempt at returning to the stage in 1911 but soon opted to pursue her sculpting. During her artistic career she worked under the name of Beatrice Ashley Chanler. In addition to the sculpting, she was active in philanthropy. The book “Famous Prima Donnas” (1900) by Lewis Clinton Strang, devotes a chapter to Minnie Ashley. He describes her as having “artless girlishness, remarkable personal charm, and skill as an imaginative dancer scarcely equalled on the American stage”. He adds that these talents explain her “sudden success” in musical comedy. He describes her dancing as “artistic in every sense” but asserts she was not exceptionally talented in the realm of acting and singing. However, Strang is very complimentary of Ashley’s appearance. He states “nature was indeed good to her when it endowed her with a most fascinating personality, a pretty piquant face, and a slim graceful figure. This postcard was published by the Rotograph Company (New York) and was part of a series (no. B 174).

ADORABLE TEENAGE GIRL DOING A SPLIT- GYMNAST OR DANCER (VINTAGE RPPC)

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This vintage real photo postcard features a portrait of a teenage girl doing a split. She appears to be a gymnast or a dancer. A notation on the reverse of the  postcard identifies the girl as “Clara”. The postcard was published on Artura paper that was produced between 1908 and 1924.

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Published in: on September 30, 2016 at 12:00 pm  Comments (1)  
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PORTRAIT OF ACTRESS REGINA BADET: “THE WOMAN AND THE PUPPET” (VINTAGE REAL PHOTO POSTCARD)

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This vintage real photo postcard features French actress and dancer, Anne Regina Badet (1876-1949). She was a major star of the Opera-Comique in Paris. She made her debut at the Grand Theatre de Bordeaux where she became a principal dancer  She received much acclaim for her portrayal of Conchita Perez in “The Woman and the Puppet (1910)”. This postcard portrait shows her in this role. Her stage acting led her to a brief film career (eleven movies between 1908 and 1922). The Los Angeles Herald (1906) described Badet as the “new Paris pet” and that her dances in the Opera “Aphrodite” had “caused a furor among theater goers. A critic wrote that he went to see the performance because the opera was a “masterpiece” and because he wanted to see the star soprano, Mary Garden, interpretation of her role. Instead, he reports he was most drawn to the performance by Regina Badet.  Miss Badet  retired from stage and screen in the early 1920’s.The photographer of this image is listed on the postcard as “Bert”. I believe that this is the same photographer who partnered with celebrated photographer Paul Boyer who is known for his celebrity and theater images. This postcard was published by F. C. & C..

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THE SCANTILY CLAD BELLY DANCING HARRISON SISTERS CAVORT TOGETHER

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Meet the Harrison Sisters, or the “Sisters Harrison” if you prefer the title on this vintage real photo postcard. The sisters are dressed like belly dancers and perhaps that is their trademark talent. Judging by their expressions, the young women don’t appear to be too interested in their career choice. Note the dancer’s sheer skirts and abundance of jewelry. The provocative skirts and the performer’s bikini top certainly makes this a risque photograph for it’s era. Postcard images such as this often appeared with a Salome theme. Salome, the daughter of Herod II and Herodias is involved in the story of John the Baptist, or more specifically, the head of John the Baptist. Salome was a popular subject in literature, theater, and art around the time that these images were produced. Salome became a symbol for dangerous female seductiveness. To make a long story longer, I am not sure if the inspiration of this postcard’s image is Middle Eastern belly dancing or the temptress Salome. Preliminary research uncovered nothing about the “Sisters Harrison” and clearly more extensive investigation is required. Perhaps the Cabinet Card Gallery’s research department (it’s visitors) have some information to share about these dancing siblings.

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Published in: on December 12, 2015 at 12:47 pm  Comments (2)  
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MABEL MAY-YONG

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Mabel May Yong (1883-1945) was an Australian born actress and dancer. She appeared in German films. The IMDB reports that she had 21 film appearances between 1920 and 1925. In some of the early films she was billed as Mabel May. She portrayed the exotic, sexy,  scantily clad Mata Hari or Salome type. She is often considered the German equivalent of Theda Bara. She had the lead in a vampire film “What the Skull Tells” (1921). Interestingly, she appeared in a film called “Women Who Commit Adultery ( 1922). Mabel May Yong was quite prolific in regard to her numerous film appearance in the early 1920’s. However, her success was short lived. Perhaps a cabinet card gallery visitor can explain what happened to Miss Yong personally and professionally after her early success. This rare vintage real photo postcard was published in Munich, Germany by Percy Hein.

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Published in: on December 4, 2015 at 12:00 pm  Comments (9)  
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YOUNG BALLERINA IN GRAND RAPIDS, MICHIGAN

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An adorable young girl wearing ballet shoes, poses for her portrait at the Noble Studio in Grand Rapids, Michigan. The photographer posed her as if she was dancing. The bright eyed young girl has a terrific smile. The photographer of this image is Thomas Frederick Noble (1866-1932) and he operated a photography studio at various addresses in Grand Rapids. His career spanned between 1890 and 1931. The 1920 US census found him living in Grand Rapids with his wife Pauline (age 50) and two of their children, Fred (age 17) and Pauline (age 15). The 1900 US census reveals that he also had a daughter named Lily. Noble died in 1932 and is buried in Graceland Memorial Park in Grand Rapids.

Published in: on August 27, 2015 at 12:00 pm  Leave a Comment  
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AMELIA GLOVER: FAMOUS SKIRT DANCER (CABINET CARD PORTRAIT BY SARONY)

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This cabinet card portrait features celebrated skirt dancer Amelia Glover. The photograph was taken by the well known New York theatrical photographer, Napoleon Sarony. The term “skirt dancer” is not a term we read or hear about today so an explanation is likely in order. Skirt dancing earned its name due to the voluminous skirts worn by the dancers. These skirts were often made of sheer and flimsy material. The skirts were utilized as part of the dancers act. Famous skirt dancers include Glover, Loie Fuller, Papinta, and Anna Held. Amelia Glover was not just any skirt dancer. The Illustrated American (1892) published an article called “The Skirt and the Dance”. In the article the author bemoans the trend that resulted in French and English dancer’s skirts getting shorter and shorter. Most dancers prior to the trend wore long skirts (below the knee). Kate Vaughn is credited with the reintroduction of long skirts and the”skirt dance”. Letty Lind and Sylvia Grey are asserted to be responsible for importing the dance from England to the United States. The pair are said to have created a “rage” with the skirt dance. The author complains that the dance “has mostly degenerated into a lot of high kicking and can can impropriety”. He continues with the contention that the original dance has become “vulgarized”at the hands of “ordinary women” of the variety stage.The author goes on to state that there is one American skirt dancer who has “remarkable natural gifts”. He identifies that dancer as Amelia Glover, also known as “Little Fawn”. The cabinet card image below gives a view of  Glover dancing while wearing a long skirt. Besides being an incredible dance talent, Glover has another claim to fame. Theatre Magazine (1922) reports that Miss Glover started the fad of wearing bobbed hair. Her hairstyle was imitated by other women of the stage as well as by women of society.

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PAULINE HALL (1860-1919): BEAUTIFUL MUSICAL THEATRE STAR

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The top cabinet card features Pauline Hall (1860-1919), one of the most popular turn of the century prima donnas. She began her career as a dancer in Cincinnati, Ohio at age 15. She joined the Alice Oats Opera Company but left to tour in plays with famed actress Mary Anderson. By 1880, she worked for well known producer Edward Everett Rice in musical productions. Early in their association, he gave her a role in “Evangeline”. Her shapely figure allowed her to take male roles as she did in “Ixion” (1885). Her greatest success came in the title role of the first American production of  “Erminie” (1886). She played in more than two dozen Broadway operettas. Her final role was in the “Gold Diggers” (1919). This photograph was taken by famed celebrity photographer, Elmer Chickering of Boston, Massachusetts. Other photographs by Chickering can be seen by clicking on Cabinet Card Gallery’s category of “Photographer: Chickering, E.”. The second cabinet card, photographed by B. J. Falk, of New York City, captures Pauline Hall in stage costume. The photograph is #305 in a series from Newsboy. The tobacco company (Newsboy) gave away cabinet cards as a premium with the purchase of their products. This cabinet card shows a copyright date in the 1890’s. The exact date has become illegible over time. To view other Newsboy or Falk cabinet cards, click on the categories “Photographer: Falk” or “Photographer: Newsboy”. The third cabinet card portrait was also photographed by Falk. Ms. Hall looks quite beautiful in this image. She is wearing earrings and an interesting hat. The photograph is a bit risque. Much of her neck and shoulders are exposed. In addition, her dress accentuates and reveals significant cleavage. Is the material at the base of her scoop neckline part of her dress; or was it added in order to make the photograph less provocative? Perhaps a visitor to the cabinet card gallery will be able to provide an explanation. The fourth cabinet card image, once again photographed by B J Falk, features Miss Hall wearing a dark dress, long gloves, a lovely hat, and a purse. Pauline Hall certainly was a stage beauty as attested by this photograph.

CARLOTTA BRIANZA: CELEBRATED ITALIAN BALLERINA (PORTRAIT BY FALK)

This cabinet card portrait features pretty celebrated Italian ballerina, Carlotta Brianza (1867-c.1933). Note that the jewelry that is hanging from her necklace is shaped like a horse. It is also worth mention that this photograph is somewhat risque for the era. Brianza was born in Milan, Italy and was the prima ballerina at La Scala before going to Russia. She created a sensation in Luigi Manzotti’s ballet “Excelsior” as the Spirit of Light. She went to Russia in 1887 after completing a US tour. She was acclaimed for her work in “Sleeping Beauty” and “Esmerelda”. She returned to the west in 1891 when she became the prima ballerina for the Vienna Opera. She died in Paris under suspicious circumstances that suggest she committed suicide. This portrait was produced by celebrity photographer Benjamin J. Falk of New York City. To view other photographs by Falk, click on the category “Photographer: Falk”.

PRETTY DANCER DOES A SPLIT (UNUSUAL RISQUE POSE)

This photograph captures an attractive dancer in an unusual pose. She is doing a split, which is a very risque pose for this time era. The woman is likely a professional dancer but it is possible that she is just a very athletic, and provocative young lady. There is no identification available of the young woman or of the photographer and studio. Perhaps a visitor to the Cabinet Card Gallery will recognize the dancer and leave a comment concerning her identity.

Published in: on December 20, 2011 at 12:01 am  Comments (2)  
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