The 4th production at the French Casino, New York was Folies d’Amour launched in late August 1936 and transferred to the London Casino in January 1937. Once again Clifford Fischer presented an excess of scenic artifice, flamboyant costumes and feminine pulchritude to such an extent that the New York Times said he was following in Ziegfeld’s footsteps with such tableaux as the Flowers of Paris, the old Jewel Box, the Metal Age and naughtiness of Goodnight.
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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 London Casino
The Prince Edward Theatre on Old Compton Street, named after Edward Prince of Wales, opened on the 3rd April 1930 on the site of a drapers business called The Emporium. The area was soon to be known as London’s Quarter Latin now simply Soho and the venue later became The London Casino. The exterior was in the style of an Italian Palace, and the foyer pure art deco. The auditorium was on two levels (stalls and dress circle) and seated 1,650. From its inception the shows staged (Rio Rita, Nippy, Fanfare) did not do well and even an appearance of the famous Parisian music hall star Josephine Baker failed to click. After the pantomime Aladdin the theatre was forced to close in January 1935.
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The French Casino
In December 1934, the refurbished Earl Carroll Theatre located on the south-east corner of 7th Ave and 50th Street, New York City, opened as the French Casino. This glittering supper club was described by Fortune magazine as ‘a vast scarlet and silver restaurant which, in terraced rows of tables, seats fifteen hundred people without any crowding.’ For a short three year period it became the unrivalled premier nightspot in New York.
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Folies de Femmes
The Folies de Femmes revue was the third show launched at the French Casino New York in February 1936 with an array of talent and spectacular scenes that included the Women from Paris, Military Fashions, Music of the Accordians and Supper in Paris.
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The French Casino Project
Following the example of the Ambassadeurs theatre-restaurant in Paris, an ambitious business consortium conceived the idea of a chain of luxurious theatre-restaurants and at one time in the mid 1930s they had branches in Chicago, New York, Miami and London. Clifford Fischer (who owned the Ambassadeurs) staged extravagant, French inspired revues that were created to tour each venue and were hailed as being the best cabaret entertainment ever seen.
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Folie Parisienne was the second presentation at the French Casino New York in September 1935. It was transferred to the Miami Beach French Casino in January 1936 and was then the opening show at the London Casino in April 1936. It was a highly elaborate mix of spectacle, ballet and speciality acts with fashion shows, dog shows, butterflies, fountains, a carpet of roses, aerialists, dancers and as usual a magnificent array of mannequins and chorus girls.
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Clifford C. Fischer, the originator of the French Casino Project
One of the most picturesque figures in show business, Clifford C. Fischer was an internationally distinquished booking agent and producer who really made a name for himself staging spectacular stage shows as part of the French Casino theatre-restaurant project in the mid 1930s.
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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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