CARRIE PERKINS : RISQUE PHOTO : WORE THE TIGHTEST DRESSES IN VAUDEVILLE

The pretty woman seen in this cabinet card portrait is actress, Carrie Perkins. Her acting included productions on Broadway, as well as, appearances on the Burlesque and Vaudeville stage. One of Perkins’s claims to fame, is that she was considered to be the actress that wore the tightest fitting costumes in all of vaudeville. She appeared in much advertising such as premium cards for cigarette brands. The website, “Broadway Photographs” provides a biography of Miss Perkins. She is described as “a vaudevillian with a trim body and a smart tongue”. The site states that “she plied both the visual and verbal dimensions of entertainment”. Although she was known for her tight gowns, the biographer states that “it was her urban girl wit that won her a ticket to Broadway”. She became known to the theatrical world in Garrick’s burlesque “Thrilby” (1895). She wasn’t considered beautiful enough to play lead roles. Instead she played roles that showcased “feminine audacity”. She appeared in nineteen Broadway productions according to the Internet Broadway Database (IBDB). These appearances occurred between 1888 and 1911. These performances included “Jack and the Beanstalk (1898), “The Casino Girl” (1901), and “The Merry Shop Girl’s” (1905). Her final show was “The Fascinating Widow”. which was a touring production with the popular actor and female impersonator Julian Eltinge. There seems to be agreement that Perkins was long on personality and appearance, but short on talent. Perkins rarely received praise from theatre critics. She found her place on the stage as a supporting actress/dancer/singer. This cabinet card photograph was taken by the Sparks Photo-Publishing Company. The studio was located in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. The artist/manager of the studio was Elliott Houseworth. The 1880 census lists Elliott A. Houseworth as being born in 1855, residing in San Francisco, California, and working as a photographer. Houseworth also appears in the 1900 census as living in Norwood, Pennsylvania and working as a manager. These demographics fit the photographer of this image, since Houseworth managed Sparks Photography Studio and Norwood is only about eleven miles from Philadelphia. A stamp on the reverse of the image states “Russell Brothers, 126 Tremont Street, Boston”. Perhaps the Russell Brothers were photograph collectors or a photo gallery that sold celebrity photographs. Photographs of Miss Perkins are rare and this image is beautiful remnant of turn of the century Broadway theater. SOLD

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