MISS RENEE MAYER: CHILD ACTRESS AS PUCK IN “THE SLEEPING BEAUTY RE-AWAKENED” (VINTAGE REAL PHOTO POSTCARD)

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This vintage real photo postcard features child actress, Miss Renee Mayer, posing in character for photographers Foulsham and Banfield. She is photographically captured in her role as Puck in the theatrical production of “The Sleeping Beauty Re-Awakened”. Note the cute little puppy that she is holding. Mayer was a child actress and dancer who made her stage debut in 1910 as the Pearl Fairy in “The Goldfish”. She is most noted for her performance as Puck in three revivals of “Sleeping Beauty” (1912, 1913, 1914). She acted in pantomimes throughout her teenage years and appeared in films in the early 1920’s including “A Bachelor Husband” (1920). Miss Mayer was born in 1900 which informs us that she was somewhere around thirteen years old when she posed for this photograph. The New York Times (1915) mentions Renee Mayer in an article about a play called “Masque of War and Peace”. Looking at the roster of cast members in this production, it becomes clear that the show had an all-star cast. Performers included Mme Rejane, Lily Elsie, Edna May, Viola Tree, Elsie Janie, Lily Langtry and of course Miss Mayer. The show was performed at the Drury Lane Theatre to raise money for “The American Women’s War Relief Fund”. Great Britain’s National Portrait Gallery has twenty real photo postcard portraits of Miss Mayer. Three of the images are photographs by Foulsham and Banfield and published by Rotary Photo (just like the image above). This postcard is part of the Rotary Photographic Series (no. 6924 B) and was printed in Britain.

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CARLOTTA BRIANZA: CELEBRATED ITALIAN BALLERINA (PORTRAIT BY FALK)

This cabinet card portrait features pretty celebrated Italian ballerina, Carlotta Brianza (1867-c.1933). Note that the jewelry that is hanging from her necklace is shaped like a horse. It is also worth mention that this photograph is somewhat risque for the era. Brianza was born in Milan, Italy and was the prima ballerina at La Scala before going to Russia. She created a sensation in Luigi Manzotti’s ballet “Excelsior” as the Spirit of Light. She went to Russia in 1887 after completing a US tour. She was acclaimed for her work in “Sleeping Beauty” and “Esmerelda”. She returned to the west in 1891 when she became the prima ballerina for the Vienna Opera. She died in Paris under suspicious circumstances that suggest she committed suicide. This portrait was produced by celebrity photographer Benjamin J. Falk of New York City. To view other photographs by Falk, click on the category “Photographer: Falk”.

ADA RICHMOND: EARLY BURLESQUE ACTRESS AND IMPRESARIO

This cabinet card features a portrait of burlesque actress and impresario,  Ada Richmond.  Richmond was from Chicago and when her businessman father died she was sent to Boston to study music. She was encouraged by a theater manager to try the burlesque stage and she became very successful in that genre of theater. The Milwaukee Daily Journal (1885) has an article in it’s theater section about the opening of Ada Richmond’s American Burlesque Company’s version of “The Sleeping Beauty”. She headed the company and performed in it. She was known as the “handsomest woman” on the burlesque stage. The article also points out that Ada Richmond was the widow of Billy Bost, a well known New York politician and “sporting character” who was shot and killed three years earlier in a political dispute. This cabinet card was photographed by celebrity photographer, Gurney. Ada Richmond looks quite angelic in this portrait and is wearing exquisite matching jewelry. The photographer’s logo on the reverse of the photograph has a symbol with the following words “I have chained the sun to serve me”. This likely is an advertisement for the studio’s electric lights which would improve the quality of customer’s photographs. A stamp on the reverse of the cabinet card notes that it was part of the “Harold Seton” collection. Harold Seton was a journalist, author and collector of theatrical photographs. He wrote a column for Theatre Magazine. To learn more about Seton and to see other photographs that were part  of the collection, click on the category “Harold Seton Collection”.