MISS GAYNOR ROWLANDS : ENGLISH STAGE ACTRESS; SINGER, AND DANCER

This vintage real photo postcard features English actress, singer, and dancer, Gaynor Rowlands (1883-1906). She carried the nickname of “The Nightingale of Wales”. She started her career in Empire Theatres’s Ballet. Upon graduation, she joined the company chorus line of George Edwarde’s Gaiety Theatre. She toured India in 1901/02. She quickly became a star and she became the most photographed of the “Gaiety Girls”. She was a popular subject of photo postcards and theatre magazine articles. Rowland’s life was cut short when she died of heart failure at the age of twenty-three after surgery for appendicitis. Eight portraits of Gaynor are in England’s National Portrait Gallery. The IMDb reports that she has one film in her filmography. lt was released in 1905. This pretty portrait of Miss Rowlands was published by Raphael Tuck & Sons as part of the Glosso Postcard Series (No. 5709) and the “Celebrities of the Stage Series”. The writer of this postcard used only one word to describe Gaynor. That word is “Lovely”. There is no doubt about the date that this postcard was written and sent. Not only does the postmark reveal that this card was mailed in 1905, but the writer wrote the same date on the front of the postcard. The card was mailed from Hounslow, a borough of London. This postcard is in good condition (see scans). .

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MISS OLGA CHARNA: PRETTY STAGE ACTRESS (1910)

This vintage real photo postcard features stage actress Olga Charna. She was a Russian soprano. The photo of Miss Charna was taken by the celebrated firm of the Dover Street Studios. The postcard was published by G. W. Saxby; located in Margate, England. The postcard has a postmark from Margate that is dated 1910. SOLD

MISS FANNY FIELDS : JEWISH AMERICAN SINGER, DANCER, AND COMEDIENNE (TWO PHOTO POSTCARDS FROM 1906)

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POSTCARD 2

This vintage real photo postcard features American singer, dancer, and comic performer, Fanny Fields (1880-1961), who was a successful performer in British music halls and pantomimes in the early 1900s. During her career she was frequently billed as “Happy” Fanny Fields. She was born, Fanny Furman, in New York City, to a Jewish family. She first appeared in variety shows in NYC sometime around 1899. In her act, she sang and told stories. In 1902, she performed in London and had a very positive reception. One reviewer described her as “one big bubble of mirth and merriment”. She toured with Welsh harpist, Nansi Richards. She also performed “The Suffragette”. In an accompanying monologue, she encouraged woman to make a stand for their rights. In 1912, she performed in front of King George V. She also starred in a silent film short entitled “Happy Fanny Fields and the Four Little Dutchmen” (1913). She retired from the entertainment business in 1913. She returned to the United States and married Dr Abraham Rongy (1878-1949). He was a gynecologist and set up maternity hospitals. In 1933, he published one of the first books proposing the legalization of abortion. Fanny became an active fundraiser for Jewish medical organizations.

Postcard 1 features a close-up portrait of Fanny Fields. She looks pretty in this color tinted photo postcard. The postcard was published by Rotary Photo as part of a series (no.4007 C). The message on this postcard indicates that the sender sent the postcard for someone to add to their collection. This postcard has a postmark from 1906.

Postcard 2 is a vintage real photo postcard portrait of Miss Fields. The photograph is color tinted. The performer is just beaming for the photographer. Her hat is quite an extravaganza. This postcard was published by Philco (London) as part of a series (no.3213 D). The photographer was Lewis R. Protheroe. He operated a studio in Bristol, England. He was working as a photographer, at least between 1901 and 1917. His father, Thomas Protheroe founded the studio between approximately 1876 and 1900. The postcard has a 1906 postmark. The card is in very good condition (see scans).

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MISS ELIZABETH FIRTH : SINGER, ACTRESS, AND PHILANTHROPIST (1908)

This vintage real photo postcard features soprano, actress, and philanthropist, Elizabeth Firth (1880-1960). Although she was born in Phillipsburg, New Jersey, she became an accomplished singer and actress on the English stage. When she lived in Phillipsburg, she was known as “Jimmy” Firth. The nickname, Jimmy, came courtesy of her beloved father. She went by this moniker with her most intimate friends as well as among those in her theatre world. “Jimmy” graduated from high school in New Jersey and sang as a soprano soloist in the choir of her church. She then entered the New York Conservatory of Music. At a concert at New York City’s Waldorf-Astoria, she came to the attention of a leading London musical directress. Miss Firth then appeared in a few theatrical productions, including a small part in a play starring Viola Allen. In 1903 she accepted an offer to do an English concert tour. Before she could return to the United States, she was signed to a three year contract to act and sing on the English stage. She experienced a great deal of success in Gaiety theatre productions. Among her major roles was her appearance as Natalie, in the “Merry Widow”. The production was in 1907 at the Daly Theatre. Other actors in the play included Lily Elsie and Gabrielle Ray. Five portraits of the actress can be found in England’s National Portrait Gallery. She was known as a beautiful woman. One writer described her as “tall and slender” and that she had a “clear blond complexion along with blue eyes”. She was also considered one of the best dressed women in London. While in England, the actress visited her parents in the US annually and also engaged in theatrical tours there. “Jimmy” was a charitable woman and she established the “Elizabeth Firth Wade Foundation Endowment Fund”. Among the groups work was the building a a Youth Center in Phillipsburg. The foundation is still operating. Firth was married to a widower from Cleveland, Ohio. They wed in New York City in 1931. Miss Firth’s photo portrait was taken by the Foulsham & Banfield studio. Foulsham & Banfield were well known celebrity photographers. Frank Foulsham and A. C. Banfield operated a studio from the 1900’s through the 1920’s.. The postcard was published by Rotary Photo as part of a series (no.4829 B). This postcard was postmarked in 1908 and is in very good condition (see scans). (SOLD)

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

JOSEPHINE CASABONI : STAR BALLET DANCER : PHOTOGRAPHED BY LYD SAWYER

This vintage real photo postcard features Miss Josephine “Cassy” Casaboni, an esteemed principal ballet dancer. The photographer of this image is Lyd Sawyer. Edward Lyddel Sawyer (1856-1927) was a British photographer. At the age of sixteen, he was responsible for the work of a busy photography studio in Newcastle. His father was a portrait painter and photographer. In 1885, he opened a portrait studio with his two brothers. In 1895, he opened a portrait studio on Regent Street, in London. He was a founding member of “The Linked Ring”, a British photographic society that advocated viewing photography as a fine art, rather than exclusively as a science or commercial venture. Twelve of Sawyer’s photos can be found in Great Britain’s National Portrait Gallery. He is considered a talented photographer and an important figure in the history of photography. This postcard was published by Raphael Tuck & Sons. The card is part of the “Stage Favourites” series (no.5015). This photograph of Miss Casaboni captures the dancer in her role in “The Red Shoes”, which appeared at London’s Alhambra Theatre in 1899. This vintage postcard is in very good condition (see scans).

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PORTRAIT OF THE BEAUTIFUL GABY DESLYS: TALENTED ACTRESS, DANCER AND SINGER

This vintage real photo postcard features a portrait of the multi talented actress, dancer, and singer, Gaby Deslys (1881-1920). Miss Deslys performed at the beginning of the twentieth century in both Europe and the United States. She was extremely popular worldwide. In fact, she was able to earn four thousand dollars a week when performing in the United States. She performed several times on Broadway. She had a dance named after her, “The Gaby Glide” (1911). You can find the sheet music, with Gaby on the cover, elsewhere on ebay. Her love life was the topic of much public gossip. She probably added to the sensationalism surrounding her by posing in a number of risque postcards. She was courted by many wealthy and powerful men, including the King of Portugal. Her life was cut short by the “Spanish” influenza. This postcard is not at all common. It was published by E. A. Schwerdtfeger Company of London and printed in Berlin (no. 0291/1). The company also had an office in New York (opened in 1910). This publishing house printed many different types of real photo postcards but was known for its hand-colored real photo postcards of actresses and fashionable women in exotic costumes. The photographer was the Talbot studio. The creator of Miss Deslys’s hat is also credited (Lewis). This particular real photo postcard stands out because it offers a colorized and very clear view of this beautiful and talented performer.  SOLD

MAUD D’ORBY : BEAUTIFUL COMIC OPERA STAR : RISQUE MODEL AND FASHION MODEL FOR THE MOST PROMINENT FRENCH PHOTOGRAPHERS

This vintage postcard features Spanish model and operetta star, Maud d’Orby (1851-1929). She performed during the Belle Epoque era. d’Orby was born in Valladolid, Spain. She began her career as a comic opera singer toward the end of the nineteenth century. It is unknown whether she performed in Spain, she only appeared in the French press from that period of time. She worked in Paris (theaters included La Cigale, Scala, Olympia, Lyric) and Brussels (Folies Bergere, Theatre du Vaudeville). She received praise for her acting talent and for her singing ability. She was described as having a “melodious cheerful voice”. She often played the role of “La Commere”. This role involved being the character who narrated the opera’s story and connected the adjacent scenes. One writer stated that she was successful in this role because of her “playful and cheerful way” and her “eye-catching appearance”. d’Orby was also a successful fashion and postcard model. She was photographed many times by Leopold Reutlinger. These photos were published in the most popular fashion magazines. She looked phenomenal in her beautiful clothes, large feathered hats, and magnificent jewelry. At the exhibition of 1900 in Brussels, her photographs were exhibited and well admired. d’Orby was also a model for Jean Agelou, a prominent photographer who specialized in taking erotic photos. The photographer of this postcard’s photo is also an esteemed lensman of his era. The photograph was taken by Henri Manuel (1874-1947). In 1900, Manuel opened a portrait studio in Paris with his brother Gaston. He quickly became well known for his portraits of politicians, artists, and athletes. His images were used by news agencies . His studio became the largest studio in Paris and it attracted many young photographers who sharpened their skills there. In 1925 the brothers expended their business to include fashion photography. They worked for such designers as Chanel, Patou, and Lanvin. The studio shut down during World War II and many of their photographic plates were destroyed. Manuel was the official photographer for the French government from 1914 through 1944. The publisher of this postcard was CCCC (Charles Collas et Cie, Cognac). CCCC was established by Charles Collas (1866-1947) in Cognac, France. It began operating at the end of the 19th century as a bookstore and printing business. He began to produce postcards in 1894. The company also produced books and maps. By 1914, the publisher employed 500 people. CCCC postcards are cherished by serious collectors today. In 1914, the firm was taken over by Fleury & Cie. This vintage postcard is in very good condition (see scans).

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NELLY MARTYL : SINGER, NURSE, WAR HERO, AND PHILANTHROPIST

This vintage real photo postcard features French singer and nurse, Nelly Martyl (1884-1953). Nelly was born in Paris. Her mother was English and her father was French. She was trained as a singer at the Conservatoire de Paris. Martyl was a soprano opera singer in Paris who made her professional debut in 1907 at the Grand Opera in Paris. . She joined the Opera-Comique in 1909. She sang many parts there and performed in several premieres. She sang in London’s Covent Garden in 1910. She was a frequent model in fashion magazines (notably, Les Modes). She advertised gowns by famous Paris designers. She became a French heroine by working as a Red Cross nurse during World War I. She served in the 1916 Battle of Verdun and earned the nickname of “la fee de Verdun” (the fairy of Verdun). She also worked as a nurse during the Second Battle of the Aisne in 1917. She didn’t just do “cameo roles” at military hospitals. She heroically worked in dangerous, close to the front, hospitals. Her nursing career included being wounded and gassed several times. She was awarded the “Croix de Guerre” for her dangerous work during the war. After the war, she was a nurse to victims of the 1918 flu epidemic. Later, Martyl partnered with an automobile racecar driver in creating a charitable medical foundation Somehow, Nelly found time to have a personal life. She was married to French artist George Scott (1873-1942). This photo of Miss Martyl was taken by the studio of Boyer & Bert. Paul Boyer (1861-1908) operated his studio in Paris. He was very talented and won many awards. He produced many portraits of theater performers as well as other celebrities. This postcard was published by Societe Industrielle de Photograpie (SIP) of Rueil, France, as part of a series (no. 2075). It is in very good condition (see scans).

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RAQUEL MELLER : PRETTY SPANISH SINGER AND FILM ACTRESS

This vintage real photo postcard features a portrait of Spanish singer and actress, Raquel Meller (1888-1962). She was an international star in the 1920’s and 1930’s. She sang the original versions of well known songs such as “La Violetera” and “El Relicario”. Raquel Meller was loved by her fans. Imagine this scene. It is 1928 and Roscoe Arbuckle was appearing on the stage in France. Although he was blacklisted from films, he was relatively successful on stage. Arbuckle was a successful comedian and film actor. He discovered Bob Hope and Buster Keaton. He mentored Charlie Chaplin and was one of the most popular silent film stars of the 1910’s. In 1921 his star faded after being brought to criminal trial three times for the alleged rape and manslaughter of actress Virginia Rappe. After two hung jury trials, he was acquitted with the help of Buster Keaton’s testimony for the defense. Due to the scandal surrounding his trial, Arbuckle’s career was thrown off track and he had a much harder time finding work in films. Now, back to that stage in Paris. Fatty made the poor choice to include in his act an imitation of Raquel Meller selling violets. Meller was beloved in Europe. Besides being charismatic and beautiful, she created an art form of the “cuple genre”; which was a popular risque Spanish theatre song style sung in cabaret theater. Sarah Bernhardt had labelled her a genious and Charlie Chaplin used the score of her song “La Violetera” in his classic “City Lights” (1931). Critics had called her “imperious, ruthless, lovable, funny, temperamental, witty and totally egomaniac”. Arbuckle was booed, hooted at, and heckled for his misdeed of mocking Raquel Meller. During one of his performances the police had to be called to quell the audience riot. Here is some background of Miss Meller. She was born in Aragon, Spain. Her father was a blacksmith and her mother ran a grocery store. Her family was wealthy until losing their money during Spain’s civil wars. She and her family moved to Barcelona when Raquel was four years of age. Her father died when she was nine years old. She was was placed with an Aunt who was a nun and lived in a Convent. When she got older, she was asked to become a nun, precipitating her escaping from the convent. Raquel went back to Barcelona where she worked as a seamstress, embroidering the robes of the clergy. The story goes that she sang as she worked, and her talent drew crowds outside the dressmaker’s shop. At age 13, she sang at a small cabaret in Valencia. She then came under the tutelage of a famous Spanish singer, Marta Oliver. In 1911, she made her grand debut in Barcelona. In 1919 she married a Guatamalan journalist and diplomat. That same year she held concerts in France, Argentina, Uruguay and Chile and appeared in her first film. In 1922, she obtained a divorce. Her most successful film was probably “Carmen” (1926). She was an international star and appeared on the cover of a 1926 issue of Time magazine. Meller canceled two trips to the United States where she had scheduled performances. One of these cancellations had to do with the ocean liner company’s refusal to book a deluxe suite for her five Pekingese dogs. The third time was the charm, and she traveled to the United States and did a six city tour which included sixteen concerts in New York. In the 1930’s Meller lived in France where her friends included Maurice Chevalier and Sarah Bernhardt. Miss Bernhardt described Meller as the “greatest actress in Europe-after myself”. After the late 1930’s, Meller left performing until appearing in a film in both 1957 and 1958. The IMDb credits Meller with ten film appearances. Meller was married twice, and both marriages were short lived, ending in divorce. She was the older sister of actress Tina Meller, who appeared in five motion pictures between 1919 and 1929. Raquel died after suffering a heart attack in 1962. One hundred thousand people witnessed her funeral procession in Barcelona. She is still honored today. Streets in France and Spain bear her name and a statue of her is in a plaza named after her in Barcelona. In her obituary, appearing in the New York Times, Raquel Meller is described as a “shining example of artistry, style, and press agent’s hocum -sometimes it was difficult to separate the ingredients”. The obituary cites one of the newspaper’s theater critics who said Meller’s voice was “frequently rough and shrill” but that her great distinction was her “extraordinarily magnetic personality”. This vintage portrait postcard was published by Cinemagazine. The photograph of Miss Meller was taken by Pierre Apers. He was a talented French photographer active in the early twentieth century. His studio was in Paris and he specialized in portraiture. This vintage portrait postcard has excellent clarity and is in very good condition. Note the video profile of Raquel Meller that is found below.

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Video produced by the Biblioteca Nacional de España