By Eve Golden
" Anna Held (1870?-1918), a petite lady with an hourglass determine, was once America's preferred musical comedy famous person throughout the 20 years previous international warfare I. within the colourful international of latest York theater in the course of l. a. Belle Époque, she epitomized every thing that was once glamorous, refined, and suggestive approximately turn-of-the-century Broadway. Overcoming an impoverished existence as an orphan to develop into a music-hall celebrity in Paris, Held rocketed to reputation in the US. From 1896 to 1910, she starred in hit after hit and speedy changed Lillian Russell because the darling of the theatrical global. the 1st spouse of mythical manufacturer Florenz Ziegfeld Jr., Held used to be the brains and thought in the back of his Follies and shared his knack for exposure. jointly, they introduced the Paris scene to ny, entire with lavish costumes and units and a refrain of stunningly appealing ladies, dubbed ""The Anna Held Girls."" whereas Held was once identified for a champagne snigger in addition to for her million-dollar checking account, there has been a darker part to her lifestyles. She hid her Jewish heritage and her daughter from a prior marriage. She suffered via her husbands' playing difficulties and Ziegfeld's blatant affairs with showgirls. With the outbreak of scuffling with in Europe, Held back to France to aid the battle attempt. She entertained troops and added scientific provides, and she or he used to be in short captured by way of the German military. Anna Held and the beginning of Ziegfeld's Broadway unearths probably the most impressive ladies within the historical past of theatrical leisure. With entry to formerly unseen family members documents and images, Eve Golden has exposed the main points of a rare lady within the brilliant international of 1900s New York.
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Extra info for Anna Held and the Birth of Ziegfeld's Broadway
T h i s was not what Anna had come to America for, and her patience was running out. By the end of her tour, she sighed to a reporter, "I do not like vaudeville, but what can I do? " W h i l e Anna was touring the country, Ziegfeld and coproducer William A. Brady were readying their mistaken identity comedy A Gay Deceiver for its February 1 8 9 8 opening. Anna wound u p her vaudeville tour at the end of May, and on June 7 she sailed for Europe on the Kaiser Wilhelm der Grosse, accompanied by an equally exhausted Ziegfeld.
And Ziegfeld invited prominent ladies backstage to politely grope the agreeable muscle-man. It was all a huge success, and at the end of his Chicago run Ziegfeld packed up his new star and took him on the road. Ziegfeld, Sandow, and their little troupe of second-string performers toured successfully through the end of 1895 (the only disaster being a lion-fighting act wherein the tired old lion collapsed upon entering the ring). In 1 8 9 4 Ziegfeld took Sandow to T h o m a s Edison's laboratory in N e w Jersey, where a brief film immortalized him.
Airy Fairy Lillian" was thirty-five years old in 1896 and was generally acknowledged to be the greatest beauty of her era. Blonde-haired and blue-eyed, Russell had perfect features that put her in an entirely different league than Anna; Russell's clear soprano voice also outclassed the singing skills of the foreign newcomer. T h e Iowa-born Russell had first achieved fame as a Gilbert and Sullivan soubrette in the early 1880s and over the next decade starred in more than twenty shows, becoming the premiere musical comedy diva of her day.