The enigmatic Afro-American dancer Marie Woods appeared in the original line up of the famous La Revue Negre in Paris in 1925. This unique photograph shows her in costume from the show.
The Revue Negre was a ground breaking black show that showcased the talent of numerous Afro-American performing stars and effectively launched the career of Josephine Baker in Europe. Presented by white Chicagoan Caroline Dudley Reagan and staged by the Afro-American performer and producer Louis Douglas it built on the developing fascination of black culture, dance and music, particularly in Paris that had flourished since the World War 1.
The Revue Negre troupe sailed from New York on 21st September 1925 aboard Berengaria for Cherbourg and Paris and arrived on the 26th. Given Marie Woods was selected for the troupe it would suggest that she had in fact been in the chorus of one or more of the black shows in New York. Josephine Baker had been spotted in Tan Town Topics, a revue staged at the Plantation Club, but Woods was not in the chorus of this show so she must have been found elsewhere.
The Revue Negre was staged at the Champs Elysees Theatre on 2nd October 1925, moved to the Theatre de L’Etoile in November and was later shown in Brussels and Berlin, concluding in late February 1926.
Sadly, there is little known about Marie Woods, which I find extremely disappointing in light of this magnificent image of her. What I have discovered is that she was born in Kansa City on 15th June 1903 and was therefore 21 when she arrived in Europe. Her mother was Mary Woods who was living at 118 West 124th Street, New York.
She was variously described as Marie, Maria and Mary and Wood or Woods, and following the staging of the Revue Negre in Berlin she returned to New York from Bremen, Germany arriving 5th April 1926. Thereafter, it is not known what she did but perhaps she continued as a chorus girl in black shows. Accordingly, she was possibly seen in a revue in Los Angeles in June 1927 that may have been at Sebastian’s Cotton Club, the Plantation or the Club Alabam.
If you have any further information about Marie Woods please let me know.
Paris Plaisirs January 1926
Chicago Defender 25/6/27