The Goode Sisters, Paris, 1920s

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.

The Goode Sisters in a show at the Ba-Ta-Clan, Paris, 1924
The Goode Sisters in a show at the Ba-Ta-Clan, Paris, 1924

Cynthia was born Irene Marguerite Goode in Elm Grove, Hammersmith 16th September 1898 to Henry Charles, manager of a press cutting agency and Jessie Melvina. Her younger sister Iris Estelle was born in October 1901. There was also an elder sister called Elaine Muriel who was born late 1891 in Hanover Square, London.

In 1901 the family were living at 26 Elm Grove Hammersmith and by 1911 at 11 Netheravon Road, Chiswick. At the time the eldest daughter Elaine was described as a theatrical student and there was a son Dudley Hatch born in 1904.

Cynthia and Iris (called Elaine) were clearly following in their elder sisters footpath because in April 1911 they were part of a group of pupils of the Ben Greet Academy of acting giving two special performances at the Ettio Studio Theatre, Bedford Street. By June 1913 both sisters had joined Clive Currie’s rehearsal company and were part of a troupe of sixteen girls in a double bill (As You Like it and One Summer’s Day at the Arts and Dramatic Club and in another presentation at Currie’s new rendezvous in Mortimer Street. In December 1915 both sisters appeared as the fairies Sea Spray and Aurora in Walter and Frederick Melville’s pantomime Robinson Crusoe at the Lyceum Theatre.

Immediately after the war both sisters were engaged by the Casino de Paris in Paris as dancers and appeared in La Grande Revue in early 1919 and the followed up La Revue du Casino de Paris from May 1919. In July, a sketch of Cynthia Goode by Dolly Tree appeared in The Tatler, with a description saying that she was a dancer appearing at the Casino de Paris.

Of significance, their elder sister Elaine Muriel, described as a dancer, arrived in New York on 26th January 1920 aboard Mauretania from Southampton to visit her fiancé Joseph E. Robbins of 603 111st Street, New York. They were married 18th September 1920 and in subsequent years moved to Hollywood, where Joseph gained employment in Hollywood as an editor film Motion Pictures and at some point worked for Paramount.

In 1920, Iris and Cynthia went their separate ways for a while. Cynthia remained in Paris and appeared in the French mime artist Severin’s Chand d’Habit at the Olympia doing ‘pantomime work’ in February and then Gernier’s Arabian Nights at Theatre des Champs Elysees from May. Meanwhile Iris was back in London and was in Oh Julie at the Shaftesbury from June and then Dion Titheradge’s A to Z at the Prince of Wales for almost a year from Octiber 1921 through October 1922.

Then in early 1923 the sisters were re-united for a run at the Alhambra in Paris and it was announced that they would join the new show at the Folies Bergere (En Pleine Folie) although it is not certain that this happened. Seemingly they then toured Europe and spent sometime in Spain before returning to Paris in early 1924 when they performed in Mme Rasimi’s musical comedy La Danse Des Libellules at the Ba-ta-clan.

What happened thereafter is a mystery but allegedly the sisters carried on dancing in Paris and the South of France. In March 1930, Cynthia travelled across the Atlantic from Villefranche on the Cote d’Azur, and made her way to Hollywood to visit her mother and sister Elaine and her husband living at 7520 Hollywood Boulevard, Los Angeles, leaving her sister Iris and brother in London. She intended to return to Europe but stayed.

At some point in the early 1930s Cynthia took lessons in acrobatic and tap from a dancing instructor called Walter Wills but there was an accident as she did a cartwheel and she sustained an injury. She was taken to a hospital, where it was found that two bones of her right ankle had been broken. She decided to sue Wills and in early November 1933 the Court of appeal in California awarded her $6,000 damages.

Then, in mid 1936, Cynthia’s former dancing partner and sister Iris also arrived to join the family in Los Angeles. By 1940 Cynthia and Iris were living with their mother at 1717 Comstock in a house they owned valued at $8500.

In April 1940 Cynthia spent a holiday with the MGM costume designer Dolly Tree at the Lone Palm Hotel, Palm Springs who was at the time separated from her husband naval officer Thomas Kimes and about to start divorce proceedings. Later, when Dolly Tree became hospitalized in the 50s and 60s due to alcohol and drug problems in New York, she kept in contact with Cynthia and at one point she was planning to re-locate back to Hollywood to live under her care, at 837 North Poinsettia Place, but sadly nothing happened.

Cynthia died October 1983 followed by Iris in 1987. Interestingly on their tombstones, Cynthia was described as beloved mother and Iris beloved aunt. Who was the elusive child?

The Forthcoming Biography on Dolly Tree

The Stage 13/4/11
The Stage 5 June 1913
The Stage 31 July 1913
The Stage 30/12/15
Programme La Grande Revue, Casino de Paris, 1919
Programme La Revue du Casino de Paris, 1919
The Tatler 2 July 1919
Variety 27/2/1920
The Stage 27 May 1920
The New York Clipper 23/6/20
Variety 19/1/23
The Stage 23 March 1924

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One thought on “The Elegant Goode Sisters”

  1. Hello,
    Today is Cynthia Goode’s “elusive child’s” 84th birthday. Michael Alfred Santell was born in Los Angeles on Sept. 6, 1935. His farther was Alfred Santell, director and producer. Al Santell was married at the time and did not acknowledge that Michael was his son, although, the strong family resemblance was unmistakable. He was the one who bought the house on Comstock for Cynthia. After the baby was born, Cynthia kept him out of view, and only her close family knew of his existence for several years.
    I was married to Cynthia’s son, Michael, from 1969 to 1975, when we divorced.
    At that time, Cynthia was living in the duplex on Poinsettia, with Elaine sharing the other half. She was selling real estate. Iris worked at Hagerty’s department store in Beverly Hills and lived in a duplex off of 3rd St. near the Farmer’s Market. Michael retired from the Los Angeles City School District after a career of teaching elementary school. My last contact with him was soon after his mother died, but I understand that he is living in Woodland Hills.
    Hope this helps!
    Chris Santell Johnson

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