Posts Tagged ‘Jazz Age’

Rome 'The Eternal City' in the 1920s

Described as the Capital of Civilisation, Rome was known as the ‘Eternal City’ because civilization had endured there for thousands of years. As a result the passion to visit Rome had never died and was felt by the modern traveller as much as it was by the citizens of the Roman Empire, the medieval pilgrim or the renaissance artist. Naturally, the attraction of Rome has always been its classical monuments and the Vatican. (more…)

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Bobbie de Lys - Female Impersonator in the 1920s

The enigmatic Bobbie de Lys was a female impersonator and singer who made a name for himself in the Jazz Age of the 1920s and 1930s and was described as a ‘wonderful male prima donna.’ Little is known about him except a few adverts in the The Stage periodical and a series of stunning postcards published in the mid-1920s. (more…)

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Dolly Tree: A Dream of Beauty - Special offer for the Hardback  Pre-publication offer of £60 for anyone who orders the hardback directly from me. If you would like to take advantage of this offer you will need to email me and I can send you full details of how to order via a cheque (UK only) or paypal. Email: There will be an additional charge for UK postage and for overseas orders - although not the full cost (it is a big book to post & deliver). For UK orders choose from First Class Post (£8) or special delivery via DPD (£6). A quote can be provided for multiple copies. For deliveries to USA the best option is Fedex and this will cost £15 (airmail costs £28). Conversion to US$ will be based on exchange rate at the time and will be confirmed at the time of ordering via paypal. Since the book is print on demand please allow between 7-14 days for printing and then delivery after placing your order.     Dolly Tree: A Dream of Beauty Will be published 26th September 2017 in hardback and paperback. Both versions contain over 600 photographs and is A4 - it is a big coffee table book. The Hardback has 400 pages all in full colour -- it is the deluxe package with an RRP of £75. The paperback has 340 pages and is in black and white with 11 colour sections containing 44 pages and an RRP of £30. View the digital sampler   Dolly Tree: A Dream of Beauty Press Release    

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Gene Boshko

  A while ago I acquired a few delightful costume sketches sighed ‘Gene’ and dating from the 1920s. Further research has revealed that the artist was named Gene Boshko - but who was Gene? (more…)

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The Dolly Sisters in Pictures

The Dolly Sisters in Pictures

View the Dolly Sisters in Pictures sampler here The Dolly Sisters in Pictures Gary Chapman Publication: 4th January 2016 £20 paperback, ISBN 978-1-909230-21-7 £12.99 Apple ebook ISBN 978-1-909230-22-4 £12.99 Amazon Kindle ebook ISBN 978-1-909230-23-1 The glamorous life of the Dolly Sisters as seen in 200 photographic images. Capturing their rise to fame and fortune, from their birth in Budapest, through Jazz Age New York, London, Paris and the Riviera, it reveals their full story in pictures. DS Pictures BOOK 3D LR                     Check out the webpage for the biography of the Dolly Sisters here The new book The Dolly Sisters in Pictures

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Dolly Sisters and Mr Selfridge

The Dolly Sisters and Mr Selfridge

The commentary about the Dolly Sisters and Mr Selfridge, in advance of the last series of the ITV show, has started already with the latest feature from The Mail on Sunday. Thankfully this assessment is not too bad and instead of blaming the Dolly Sisters for ruining him and describing them as gold-diggers, the blame is set squarely on Selfridge himself by stating that he ‘was financially ruined because of his obsession with twin dancers.’ This is a stance I have advocated in my biography about the Dolly Sisters and relentlessly followed over the years since publication. However, it is disappointing that there are the usual misleading comments such as Andrew Davies’ (the dramatist who created the series) assertion that Selfridge definately slept with Jenny but it is not clear if he bedded Rose (note : her name was Rosie). This plants a seed of doubt about the morals of both sisters and actively encourages a salaciousness about Selfridge’s activities with both sisters which of course sounds intriguing but is untrue. Let’s get this straight right away - Selfridge’s ‘relationship’ was just with Jenny not Rosie. Jenny was the object of his affection not Rosie. It is important to know that when they met in 1925 Rosie was already engaged to the French socialite Francois Dupre. Interestingly, in 1922 the Dollies appeared in vaudeville with Harry Richman, the singer and dancer and a well-known womaniser. He said of them ‘As far as I knew, they got their fabulously expensive fur coats and evening dresses solely because they were so beautiful, not because of bestowing their favours. Whenever anybody asked “where did you get that coat?” the sister who was asked would only give a sly, secret smile. They were highly moral as a matter of fact . . . a good many girls I knew got mink coats in the traditional manner. The Dollies had such class and were so sweet and gracious they never had to sleep with men.’ Let us also not forget that the sisters were twins - one came with the other - and they spent a lot of their time together until Rosie married in 1927 (and, not to Francois Dupre either). And, in courting one - Jenny - Selfridge would have found Rosie not too far away. It is also relevant that Jenny had another prominent suitor besides Selfridge - a wealthy Belgian businessman called Jacques Wittouck. From 1925, the two men would be inextricably linked with her for the next ten years, with constant rumours of marriage as each took it in turn to be her escort as they vied for her attention in a rather unusual menage à trois. The story is not a simply one-sided one. Indeed, when Jenny had her accident in 1933 she was allegedly with a third and younger suitor called Max Constant. There are a few other inconsistencies in the Mail on Sunday feature that need airing first of all it was not JUST the Dolly Sisters that loved to gamble but it was also a favourite pastime of Gordon Selfridge himself. They were by all accounts a perfect match. It was recognised that as Selfridge grew older his passion for gambling became more intense and was in fact a substitute sexual life. Secondly, both Selfridge and Wittouck asked Jenny to marry them on numerous occasions before 1933 and there were by all accounts many false reports. Simply put, if you are interested in the truth, read my biography The Dolly Sisters: Icons of the Jazz Age to get the full and true story. And, don't forget the new book The Dolly Sisters in Pictures. DS NEW COVER copy 3  

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The Dolly Sisters: London

The Dolly Sisters: London

‘Two more electric personalities it has never been my fate to meet. They radiated personal magnetism, vibrant energy or whatever you like to call it and any revue benefited enormously by their presence on the stage… On the stage and off the Dolly sisters were unique.’ Charles B. Cochran JAC DS 12 The Dolly Sisters arrived in London in 1920 to star in Albert de Courville’s revue Jigsaw at the Hippodrome becoming an instant hit. They didn’t particularly like De Courville or the parts alloted them and were elated when Charles B. Cochran took them under his wing and starred them in League of Notions (1921), a fleeting appearance in Fun of the Fayre (1922) and Babes in the Wood (1921/22). Cochran understood them. The London trip was also an excuse to escape marital discord and by 1922 they were both divorced and immediately used their new found freedom to great advantage. Their popularity in a social sense blossomed in Europe and they genuinely believed that they were the first show business personalities to be accepted socially by English and European society. This ‘acceptance’ was largely measured by the fact that their beauty and effervescent personalities, not to mention their novelty value as identical twins, enabled them to become the objects of affection of numerous rich and successful men. Each vied with the other in an elaborate game of falling in love, engagement, rumours of marriage and then cold feet. They were linked romantically with dozens of named and unnamed men of title or wealth. However, Jenny’s liaison with the famous London Department Store owner Gordon Selfridge and Rosie’s elopement with the Canadian multi-millionnaire Mortimer Davis Jr were the most widely publicised although they were also both chased around Europe by David the Prince of Wales later to become Edward V111. Check out the webpage for the biography of the Dolly Sisters here The new book The Dolly Sisters in Pictures All images and content must not be reproduced without prior consent. All images are under licence to the Mary Evans Picture library for commercial re-use.

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The Dolly Sisters: New York

The Dolly Sisters: New York

‘You can’t tell one apart from the other. In conversational ability they are as entertaining as they are with their tootsies. No prettier, smarter, clever people were born than these two girls… the most charming tots on the American stage…. they have proven themselves a box office asset… greater things will be heard…’ Unidentified 1916
JAC DS 6 It is generally claimed that the Dolly Sisters made their debut at Keith’s Union Square Theatre in 1909. In fact they had already made a splash elsewhere touring with Gertrude Hoffman and then on their own in Cuba in 1906. This was followed by a show in Madison Square Roof Garden (1907) and regional vaudeville tours. They were spotted one night by Lee Shubert who gave them their first big Broadway break putting them into his show Midnight Sons (1909). Some critics said they could not sing and rarely changed their dance routines but nevertheless they had a certain tantilising sparkle that ensured stardom. The great Florenz Ziegfeld saw them and hired them for his 1911 Follies in which they made their mark in New York. Further successes continued with The Winsome Widow (1912) and The Merry Countess (1912). But with their 20th birthday in October 1912 change was in the air. It was decided that they should perform separately. The official reason was professional neccessity, but significantly, within two years both married, we are told, for love. Rosie to songwriter Jean Schwartz (1913) and then Jenny to comedian and entertainer Harry Fox (1914). Separation was difficult but individual appearances followed in legitimate stage productions, vaudeville acts and the movies. They were re-united on the stage in Ziegfeld’s Midnight Frolic (1916), His Bridal Night (1916) and Oh Look (1918) and also appeared together in the aptly titled movie The Million Dollar Dollies (1918). During this time they were close friends with the elite of Broadway and Hollywood and became the essential prerequisite for any Broadway festivity. However, none of their friends was more important than the millionaire Diamond Jim Brady who indulged their every whim and taught them the art of a flutter with the horses. Despite their poor husbands they had begun to learn why a man with a cheque book was such a necessity. DS cover 3D copy LR Check out the webpage for the biography of the Dolly Sisters here The new book The Dolly Sisters in Pictures All images and content must not be reproduced without prior consent. All images are under licence to the Mary Evans Picture library for commercial re-use.

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The Elegant Goode Sisters

The Elegant Goode Sisters

The Goode sisters (Cynthia and Iris) were a glamorous dancing act that became well known in Paris and other continental resorts in the early 1920s. My interest was piqued because Cynthia Goode seemingly became a life-long friend of the costume designer Dolly Tree about whom I am writing a biography. (more…)

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Learn to order food by season - Parisian style

You know where to eat and when to eat - now find out what to eat. By month. By season. The fine art and charm of dining is not in flopping into a Restaurant, grabbing the menu, sweeping it quickly with your eye and calling to the waiter, ' Give me some of this; give me some of that.’ Just the same old ‘Bread, meat and potatoes’ that everyone else orders. Why not know Food as you know other fine things?   [caption id="attachment_4088" align="aligncenter" width="330"]Paris chef in the Jazz Age
A Paris chef in the Jazz Age[/caption]     Why be at the mercy of a menu at all? Why not order the dinner in your mind before you enter the restaurant? Two or three hours before. What a gorgeous idea. The thrilling anticipation of it. How much nicer to know the novel, the exceptional, the exquisite in foods and when they are in season. Not just any dish; any old commonplace food like ‘Corn beef and Cabbage’ or ‘Ham and Sauerkraut.’ You never knew there were so many marvellous foodstuffs. And you can have them all, in Paris. Show the Head - waiter that you know as much about beautiful food as he does. Take every month of the year. Just see and marvel at what each month reaches out to you in the way of epicurean delicacies. January Eat turkey, capon, chicken, rabbit, goose, lark, pheasant, partridge, widgeon, woodcock, wild duck, plover, snipe, teal, hare and venison. Eels, smelts, oysters, turbot, cod, carp, cravettes, lobsters. Spinach, endive, brussel sprouts. February The month of green geese, whitebait, giant asparagus, globe artichokes, pronns, pigeons and truffles. What on earth is pronns? March The abundant fish month. Sole, plaice, flounder, eels, perch, pike, smelts, carp. Early green peas. Mppr fowl and plover. Some choice dishes are Omelette aux huitres 9oysters), Filets de Soles Colbert, Mackerel Hollandaise, Turbot Dieppoise or Perche gratinee or brochet en dauphin. April Red and gray mullets, fresh herrings, ham, lamb, spring chicken. Plover's eggs are the hors d'oeuvres of the month. May The great delight of May is the fresh vegetables. The early green pea with sweetbreads, and pigeons and baby chickens and duckings. And the mushrooms and the first strawberries. June Here is a typical June dinner. Green pea soup. Turbot with lobster sauce. Saddle of lamb, mint sauce. Asparagus and new potatoes. Roast duck. Hearts of lettuce salad, strawberries and cream. Or substitute a luscious home grown chicken, roasted to a golden brown with creamy bread sauce; cherry pie. After that a fragrant slice of camembert and a pony of brandy. August The month for suckling pig, the peach, the green fig, the grouse and venison and mutton. September The grape gathering month. The month of partridges and oysters and abundant fruit. And the French Thrush is in perfection. (Their own orgies on the grape vines give them a fine flavour). Order your 'Thrush au Chasseur a la Choucroute'. Or have it Au Choux or swathed in fat bacon. October Mackerel comes in now. And pheasants. A pheasant pie, sautéed with truffles; served with an orange salad and chip potatoes. November Now we welcome the Turkey. And the Chestnut. And November is the month of soups, Petite Marmite or Pot au feu and mutton broth. December The month of feasting. A York ham basted in Champagne and spiced sausages. Turtle soup. Plum pudding. Roast Turkey. (nothing changes)…

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