Monday, July 25, 2011

Ziegfeld Girl

I'm going to TRY to have a theme for my blog posts this week ("try" being the operative word) and that theme will be.....Ziegfeld girls!

What are Ziegfeld girls? Well, I'm glad you asked. Ziegfeld girls are girls who were part of the Ziegfeld Follies. 

Not very helpful? OK, I will expand: The Ziegfeld Follies was a series of theatre productions founded by Florenz Ziegfeld. It was inspired by the Follies Bergere in Paris. It was a combination of vaudeville and broadway shows. The Ziegfeld follies ran from 1907 to 1931in New York City and spawned the careers of many famous screen actresses as well as socialites.

One such Ziegfeld Girl was Mary Nolan.

Mary Nolan was born Mary Imogene Robertson in Kentucky. Her life kind of sucked from the beginning. Her dad was a "no show" in her life and her mother died when Mary was only 3. As a child, Mary worked on a farm before  moving to NYC to become a model. She was discovered by Florenz Ziegfeld and convinced to be one of his "girls" in 1919. She performed under the name Imogene Wilson at first and her flirty dancing nature earned her the nickname "bubbles." She was highly popular and one reporter said of her: "Only two people in America would bring every reporter in New York to the docks to see them off. One is the President. The other is Imogene "Bubbles" Wilson." Atta girl!

During her time at the follies, she began an abusive affair with comedian Frank Tinney. She eventually ended up in the hospital due to his abusive nature. Oh, and he was married. This caused quite a scandal at the time so Mary decided to move to Germany to get away from Frank and try to start a new career.

In Germany, she enjoyed a short, but somewhat productive film career. After her brief stint in Germany, she returned to the US and began a film career under the name Mary Nolan. Mary had moderate success in US movies, starring in pictures with silent screen greats like Lon Chaney and Lionel Barrymore.

But, she couldn't handle the stress and sadly became addicted to heroine. She died of cardiac arrest in 1948. She was broke and living in relative obscurity by the time of her death. When her estate was assessed, the only thing of value that she owned was a grand piano once owned by Lionel Barrymore.

The scary face of addiction has been in the media spotlight in the last few days with the death of Amy Winehouse. It's important to realize that addiction is not a new thing and has claimed the lives of many throughout history. I certainly don't have a solution to solving this problem, but I am suggesting that we, as a society, re-evaluate the ways we stigmatize those with crippling addictions and perhaps try to do more to help them rather than sitting back to judge and criticize. 

Whoa, that was much more serious than I wanted to be on a Monday..... Here's a necklace that captures the bubbly side of Mary Nolan, which is how I'm sure she would have liked to be remembered:) http://www.etsy.com/listing/78190628/mary-nolan-ziegfeld-follies-girl

1 comment:

  1. Another gorgeous necklace Whiskey! Thank you for keeping the memory of those that may have been long forgotten alive (no matter what their life circumstances may have been...no one is perfect-we are all human afterall:)

    ReplyDelete