Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Ziegfeld Girls

Ziegfeld Girls were chorus girls from Florenz Ziegfeld's theatrical spectaculars known as the Ziegfeld Follies (1907–1931), which were based on the Folies Bergère of Paris. And this theatrical phenomenon has had long reaching fame including some very well known actresses. Today the Ziegfeld Girls are known as The Rockettes! Some things are simply timeless.
Perhaps the most famous Ziegfeld Girl during the run of the revues was Lillian Lorraine. Over the years they included many future stars such as Marion Davies, Paulette Goddard, Joan Blondell, Olive Thomas, Barbara Stanwyck, Billie Dove, Louise Brooks, Nita Naldi, Julanne Johnston, Mae Murray, Bessie Love, Dorothy Mackaill, Odette Myrtil, Lilyan Tashman, Claire Dodd, Cecile Arnold, Dolores Costello, Dorothy Sebastian, Iris Adrian and other society and business successes such as Peggy Hopkins Joyce, Helen Gallagher, Anastasia Reilly, and Irene Hayes.

Ziegfeld girl Mona Louise Parsons, was a member of a resistance movement in Holland during Nazi Occupation, working to return down Allied Airmen to England. She was eventually arrested by the Gestapo and became the only Canadian female civilian to be imprisoned by the Nazis, and one of the first women to be tried by a Nazi military tribunal in Holland. Her original sentence was death by firing squad, but the sentence was commuted to life with hard labor. She escaped from her captors.

I was surprised to learn that although a great many future stars got their start with the Ziegeld Girls many others were turned down. A few of these were. Norma Shearer (in 1919 and 1920), Alice Faye (in 1927), Joan Crawford (in 1924), Gypsy Rose Lee (in 1927), Lucille Ball (in 1927 and 1931),Phyllis Haver (in 1915), Eleanor Powell (in 1927), Ruby Keeler (in 1924), Hedda Hopper (in 1913), and June Havoc (in 1927 and 1931) were among the many hopefuls discarded after auditions. The survivors of the chorus lines of the last century are The Rockettes of Radio City Music Hall.

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