I particularly love an art deco sketch by Erna Carise from 1927 that I discovered in one of my Parisian magazines simply called ‘Jazz’. So I decided to do a little digging and discovered that she had been a rather glamorous dancer and songstress in Paris, Berlin and New York from the late 1920s through to the 1940s and also had a talent as a costume designer or artist.
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Renée Harris (1876-1969), professionally known as Mrs. Henry B. Harris, escaped the Titanic disaster to become Broadway’s first woman producer during the Jazz Age. One of the best-known survivors of the 1912 sinking, her life and work have never been examined until now with the publication of Broadway Dame by Randy Bigham and Gregg Jasper.
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Frank Leveson (Frankie) was described as a ‘Dapper Dane’ by the entertainer Billy Milton and was part of the smart society set in Jazz Age London with the likes of Noel Coward, designer Gladys Caltrop, Gladys Cooper and Ivor Novello. He made a name for himself as an exhibition dancer in the 1920s but had another career as an interior designer eventually becoming manager for Syrie Maugham’s business in the late 1920s.
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The Fiery Natacha Nattova
Natacha Nattova came from the Paris Opera via Nice and war torn Russia to become one of Europe and America’s most daring and graceful adagio dancers during the Jazz Age.
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Josephine Earle was an American actress who made a name for herself at Vitagraph in a series of Vamp movie roles from 1915. She then made herself thoroughly at home in England during the 1920s appearing in British silent films, legitimate stage shows and cabaret.
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The Incomparable Joe Zelli
Joe Zelli, sometimes called the Kings of Cabaret Keepers, was undoubtedly one of the best-known and most popular characters in Montmartre during the 1920s and his nightclub the Royal Box was a firm favourite not just with visiting Americans but all nationalities out for a good time.
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Nina Payne was an eccentric, futurist American dancer who, after long years in vaudeville travelling across the USA, made a trip to Europe and became an instant hit in Paris where she remained throughout the 1920s.
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The stunningly beautiful and dark haired ‘Miss Florence’ startled Parisian audiences as a member of the Gertrude Hoffman troupe in 1924 when she came on stage on an elephant as the Queen of Sheba. She became a popular celebrity in her own right, before teaming with Julio Avarez in a dancing partnership that proved highly successful mainly in New York and Miami cabarets in the 1930s.
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Shrouding herself with an exotic sounding name and persona, Gypsy Rhoumaje struck the big time in London and Paris from 1926 and delighted fashionable continental audiences with her exotic style of dancing and her own personal beauty. Of course nobody, least of all journalists, could spell her name right with several attempts that included Gypsy Rohoumage, Gypsy Roumahje, Gypsy Rhouma-je and Gypsy Rhouma (all with Gipsy variants).
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The Tragedy of May Vivian
May Vivian (1903-1924) was a vivacious actress and dancer who had just made a name for herself in London cabaret and was destined for bright things, but her life was cut short when, with all the dramatic intensity of a film tragedy, she was shot dead in the Spring of 1924 by a jealous suitor in the South of France.
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