DAISY JEROME : SCANDALOUS STAGE ACTRESS WHO WAS VIEWED AS RAUCOUS, VULGAR, AND “AN ACQUIRED TASTE”

This rare vintage real photo postcard features the red headed actress that electrified the Australian stage. She was noted for her famous wicked wink. The life and times of Daisy Jerome can best be described as scandalous. She arrived in Australia in 1913 for a three year stage tour.  Feminism was rising in the western world. Suffragettes were marching for the right to vote. Women were smoking, driving, wearing less conservative fashion, and even dancing the tango with it’s sexual overtones. She arrived in Adelaide adorned with an excess of jewelry. She was born in America but raised in England. Her place of birth was New York and she was born Daisy Witkowski in 1886. Daisy reported that she was raised in a multilingual household that had been visited by Presidents Lincoln, McKinley, and Roosevelt. After experiencing financial problems, her father moved the family to England. Money was needed and Daisy followed her sister onto the stage. She played the Palace and toured with companies that gave her a chance to do comedic singing and pantomime. Her performances were considered to be amusing and irreverent. She was a comedienne. Her humor has been described as “vibrant” and “wicked”. Daisy was described as “feisty”, “cunning”, and “independent”. She was small and dainty and had compelling eyes and an expressive face. Her performances had a risque tone and she had a hoarse, sensual voice. She could toe dance and wooden shoe dance, but was most known as a mimic and comnic singer. After a year of marriage, she deserted her first husband to live with another man. In 1910, she took a journalist to court for libel. The reporter had accused her of performing encores when audiences had not requested them. She claimed that her professional reputation had been damaged. The court case was a circus. The defense ridiculed one of her songs which caused her to break into tears in the witness chair. She won the case but was barely compensated. When she began her tour of Australia, she was recognized as raucous, vulgar and “an acquired taste”. She quickly charmed those that were hesitant to appreciate her and she soon received a warm welcome and a complimentary nickname, “The Electric Spark”. Her carrot red hair became the subject of much debate. She claimed it was her natural color but most people were not believers of her claim. One day, an Australian comedian told her that a gentleman had taken offence to her hair. The comedian said that the offended man would visit her that night. The comedian then informed the local fire chief that there was great risk of fire during Daisy’s time on stage. The worried fireman came to the theatre and when he saw Daisy’s red hair, he realized he had been a victim of a joke. He kept the joke going when he said that he agreed there was risk of fire and he ordered the scenery to be fireproofed immediately. During Daisy Jerome’s era, there was a bias against redheads. They were considered to be hot tempered and sexually wild and uninhibited. Her theater/music hall background only magnified some people’s negative view of Daisy. After completing her touring contract in Australia, she signed another one. This time she performed on a vaudeville stage which allowed her to showcase her bawdy songs. In 1914 she sang a feminist style song called “The Press, the Pulpit, and the Petticoat”. This song argued that women were more powerful and influential than the media and the church. Daisy was a woman who had unconventional ideas. She would not restrained by political correctness. She stated in a 1914 interview that “I refuse to regulate my acts to accepted rules of conduct”. Despite her views, she remained popular with Australian audiences. She left Australia in 1916 and returned in 1922 for another successful tour. Later, she was involved in another court case which this time involved her suing her maid over missing jewels. With the arrival and subsequent popularity of films, Daisy Jerome faded out of the public’s focus. Two photo portraits of Daisy Jerome can be found in England’s National Portrait Gallery. This vintage postcard was published by J. Beagles & Co. of London, England as part of a series (No. 109 A). The company was started by John Beagles (1844-1909). The company produced a variety of postcards including an extensive catalog of celebrity (stage and screen) portrait postcards. After Beagle’s death, the business continued under it’s original name until it closed in 1939. Miss Jerome’s portrait was taken by the Hutchinson & Svendsen studio. The National Portrait Gallery asserts that this pair of photographers were active in London between 1905 and 1906. This vintage photo postcard is in excellent condition (see scans). This postcard portrait of Daisy Jerome is absolutely beautiful and very uncommon.  (SOLD)

 

 

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