By Eve Golden
" Anna Held (1870?-1918), a petite lady with an hourglass determine, used to be America's most well-liked musical comedy celebrity through the 20 years previous global struggle I. within the colourful international of latest York theater in the course of los angeles Belle Époque, she epitomized every little thing that used to be glamorous, refined, and suggestive approximately turn-of-the-century Broadway. Overcoming an impoverished lifestyles as an orphan to develop into a music-hall celebrity in Paris, Held rocketed to popularity in the USA. From 1896 to 1910, she starred in hit after hit and speedy changed Lillian Russell because the darling of the theatrical international. the 1st spouse of mythical manufacturer Florenz Ziegfeld Jr., Held was once the brains and concept in the back of his Follies and shared his knack for exposure. jointly, they introduced the Paris scene to ny, whole with lavish costumes and units and a refrain of stunningly attractive ladies, dubbed ""The Anna Held Girls."" whereas Held was once identified for a champagne chortle in addition to for her million-dollar checking account, there has been a darker part to her existence. She hid her Jewish historical past 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 lower back to France to help the battle attempt. She entertained troops and brought clinical offers, and she or he used to be in brief captured by means of the German military. Anna Held and the start of Ziegfeld's Broadway finds the most striking ladies within the heritage of theatrical leisure. With entry to formerly unseen kin 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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Additional info for Anna Held and the Birth of Ziegfeld's Broadway
T h e audience got the joke and a few women unpinned their hats. T h e show finally ended its East Coast tour in March 1897, and Anna returned to N e w York, where she and Ziegfeld shared an apartment at the Netherland. Friends and business associates knew by now that the two were more than just business partners. Ziegfeld was a quiet, taciturn man who never discussed his private affairs. H i s nicknames amongst his theater associates included "Ice Water" and "Gloomy Gus" (Anna mangled the latter into "Gussie Gloom," to everyone's amusement).
A Parlor Match ended its N e w York run on October 3 1 , 1896, and Anna took off on her first American tour with the show: Confined mostly to the eastern states, the tour encompassed Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, Boston, Chicago, and Baltimore. Anna s first Christmas in America was spent in Pittsburgh, where she sang at a benefit for that city's H u m a n e Society (she was also paid five hundred dollars to perform at a private party that same month). W h i l e in Boston, Ziegfeld tried to plant a story about Anna facing down a mugger with her tiny derringer, but the Boston papers proved harder to fool than their N e w York counterparts.
T h e fact that Anna was probably twenty-eight at I T PAYS T O ADVERTISE 39 the time and not the twenty-three she claimed, and that she was already possessed of not one but two husbands did not slow her down. She also continued to keep up the old milk bath story, telling another reporter that "there is nothing to compare with it for the complexion. , , , At home in Paris I take a milk bath two times a week, regularly; but here on the road it is more difficult and I miss t h e m " In late February 1898 Anna started on a tour of the West and South, She finally had her bicycle but sighed that "I am not able to [ride] in America, on account of being in a different city nearly every two weeks," W h e n in N e w York, she tried to be in Central Park by nine, either on bicycle or horseback but always in scanty attire.
Anna Held and the Birth of Ziegfeld's Broadway by Eve Golden