The Lorraine Sisters

The Lorraine Sisters (Edna and Della) were a glamorous American sister act in the Jazz Age, who started off in vaudeville in America but swiftly found fame in Europe in the 1920s.

The Lorraine Sisters, 1920s

The Lorraine Sisters, 1920s

They were born Edna and Della Oits in about 1900 and by 1918 were appearing in a vaudeville act that was noted for being similar to the already famous Dolly Sisters. In mid 1921 Edna and Della were appearing on the Orpheum Circuit, and were then signed for Geroge M. Cohan’s show Little Nelly Kelly staged at the Liberty Theatre, New York from November 1922. After vaudeville engagements they appeared in the musical show Moonlight at the Longacre Theatre from January – June 1924 Further vaudeville tours followed including an appearance at Keith’s Royal Theatre in November 1924 assisted by Roy Sheldon and Billy Taylor.

Then in the summer of 1925 they were secured by the management of the Piccadilly Hotel in London for a new edition of the famous Piccadilly Revels cabaret doubling at the Kit Kat Club. They arrived in Liverpool on 26th July aboard Adriatic in time for the launch of the show on 7th August 1925. The cabaret featured Emile Boreo, formerly of the Chauve Souris company and the acrobatic dancing team of Nattova and Myrio. The Lorraine Sisters were described as ‘tall, slim and attractive dark haired girls’, they gave ‘simultaneaous whirls amid white feathers and frills’ and their graceful and clever dancing introduced ‘some of the best body bending and kicking, twists and twirls.’ Their stay was successful but brief and they returned to America in October.

The Lorraine Sisters in the show Paris at the Casino de Paris, 1926

The Lorraine Sisters in the show Paris at the Casino de Paris, 1926

The Lorraine Sisters in the show Paris at the Casino de Paris, 1926

The Lorraine Sisters in the show Paris at the Casino de Paris, 1926

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

They must have returned to vaudeville and began to feature in stage presentations at movie theatres, including a unit with the Castilian Serenaders at the Capitol Theatre, New York in the summer of 1926. Then, in early 1927 they were booked to appear in the new show at the Casino de Paris, Paris simply entitled Paris that had been launched in late November 1926 and starred Edmonde Guy and Van Duren. Whilst in the Casino de Paris show they also doubled in the adjacent Le Perroquet cabaret above the foyer of the Casino de Paris and one of the most fashionable nightclubs in Paris.

The Lorraine Sisters, in cabaret at the Piccadilly Hotel, London, 1920s

The Lorraine Sisters, in cabaret at the Piccadilly Hotel, London, 1925

When the show came to a close in June after a six month run they departed for Deauville and a month appearing at the famous Casino, before opening at the Chez Nous cabaret at the Excelsior Hotel in the Lido, Venice from 25th July. They then moved to Berlin and were featured in Herman Haller’s spectacular revue Wann und Wo launched at the Admirals Palast on 2nd September 1927. The other stars of the show were Marcella Rahna (Parisian star), and the dancing of Helen Wehrle, June and John Roper and Earle Franklin plus the Lawrence Tiller girls. When the show closed in mid March 1928 it was transferred to the Apollo Vienna for a month.

For the rest of 1928, the Lorraine Sisters were back in the USA but seemingly returned to Europe in December 1928 but what they did at this time has proved elusive. For the rest of the 1920s and 1930s they continued touring in vaudeville shows in the USA.

All images and text © copyright Gary Chapman / Jazz Age Club and must not be re-used without prior consent

 

Chronology

1921     Orpheum Circuit, vaudeville, USA
1922     Musical ‘Little Nelly Kelly’, NYC (from November)
1923     Vaudeville, USA
1924     Musical ‘Moonlight,’ NYC (January)
1924     Vaudeville, USA
1925     Playtime at the Piccadilly (July-August)
1926     Capitol stage unit, USA
1926     Revue ‘Paris’, Casino de Paris, Paris (from November)
Doubled at Le Perroquet Cabaret, Paris
1927     Deauville Casino (June/July)
1927     Chez Nous, Excelsior Hotel, Lido (July/August)
1927     Revue ‘Wann und Wo’, Admirals Palast, Berlin (from September)
1928     Revue ‘Wann und Wo’, Apollo, Vienna (from March/April)
1928     Vaudeville, USA (from May)

 

3 Responses to “The Lorraine Sisters”

  1. Bea McLain says:

    Della opened a dancing school in Passaic, New Jersey in the 50’s. It was called “Lorraine Sisters” and she had a troupe called “The Lorrainettes.” I was in that group for about 9 years.

  2. Brian sanders says:

    Their last name was olts, I know because they are in my family tree

  3. My cousin Lynne and I studied with Miss Lorraine throughout the 1950s and early 1960s. The impact she had on me was immense! I was always fascinated by the black and white photos of the sisters and the notable vaudeville stars they performed with. I’m so happy to have found this site!

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