The Female Impersonator Bert Errol
One of the most influential and major stars of the British variety stage in the Jazz Age was Bert Errol. Hugely under-rated and now long forgotten, he was one of the few, seriously, successful female impersonators on the British stage and had the advantage of an incredible vocal range that was the key to his success.
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The costume designer Zig was the pen-name of one of the great artists for the Paris music hall in the Jazz Age. Prolific as an illustrator, creating artwork for posters, programme covers and sheet music, Zig also created stunning sets and costumes with a tremendous flair and originality from the mid to late 1920s and early 1930s, before dying at an early age in 1936. He must not to be confused with another illustrator called Zig Brunner.
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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.
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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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