By Eve Golden
" Anna Held (1870?-1918), a petite lady with an hourglass determine, used to be America's preferred musical comedy celebrity through the twenty years previous global battle I. within the colourful global of recent York theater in the course of los angeles Belle Époque, she epitomized every little thing that was once glamorous, refined, and suggestive approximately turn-of-the-century Broadway. Overcoming an impoverished lifestyles as an orphan to turn into a music-hall superstar 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 global. the 1st spouse of mythical manufacturer Florenz Ziegfeld Jr., Held used to be the brains and concept in the back of his Follies and shared his knack for exposure. jointly, they introduced the Paris scene to long island, entire with lavish costumes and units and a refrain of stunningly appealing girls, dubbed ""The Anna Held Girls."" whereas Held used to be identified for a champagne chuckle in addition to for her million-dollar checking account, there has been a darker facet to her lifestyles. 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 struggling with in Europe, Held back to France to help the battle attempt. She entertained troops and introduced clinical offers, and he or she was in brief captured through the German military. Anna Held and the delivery of Ziegfeld's Broadway unearths some of the most extraordinary ladies within the heritage of theatrical leisure. With entry to formerly unseen kinfolk files and pictures, Eve Golden has exposed the main points of a rare girl within the bright international of 1900s New York.
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Extra resources for Anna Held and the Birth of Ziegfeld's Broadway
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. " As 1 8 9 7 dawned, the majority of newspaper critics remained largely un- 34 ANNA H E L D impressed by Anna's skills, but her audience appeal was growing.
W h i l e the man who was essentially her husband looked on, Anna panted prettily for a New York Journal scribe, " U p to the fifteenth kiss I felt calm, comfortable, with no marked sensation of any sort. . " As A n n a s English was rudimentary at this time, someone (probablyTeddy Marks) must have been serving as her interpreter and elaborator. Dr. " 36 ANNA HELD Another concocted tale, carefully tied in to the plot of La Poupee, had Anna going to the popular Eden Musee on Twenty-third Street, Standing in front of the wax figures, lost in admiration, Anna was suddenly kissed by a young man who'd mistaken her for a statue.
T h a t finally done with, Anna journeyed to St. Petersburg in July and earned a healthy forty thousand francs performing there while Ziegfeld remained in Paris working out the logistics of their next show together, The French Maid, another coproduction with Charles Evans. T h e show had been running at the Vaudeville Theatre in London for four hundred performances, and an American version had opened in late 1 8 9 7 with Marguerite Sylva in the title role; Ziegfeld hoped to buy the show and replace her with Anna—Americas idea of the perfect French maid personified.
Anna Held and the Birth of Ziegfeld's Broadway by Eve Golden