Friday, 1 June 2012

There's Nothing Like a Dame - Sepia Saturday

Alan’s prompt this week is a photo of Sophie Tucker.

Sophie was born in the Ukraine. When her parents emigrated to the USA Sophie sang in her mother’s restaurant to entertain diners. She began her career in 1906 at the Old Music Hall in New York. She performed for 62 years in burlesque, vaudeville and English music halls.

Sophie Tucker - What's My Line (1957)

If you are looking for a quote by Sophie Tucker there is one that stands out, “from birth to age eighteen, a girl needs good parents. From eighteen to thirty-five she needs good looks. From thirty-five to fifty-five, she needs a personality. From fifty-five on she needs good cash.”

In Paris in 1926 an African-American expatriate singer dancer and entertainer became an overnight sensation at the Folies Bergère when she performed the Danse sauvage wearing a costume of a skirt made from a string of artificial bananas and little else. Her name was Josephine Baker. – her erotic dancing and near nude performances were renowned.

Josephine Baker
in banana skirt from Folies 
Bergère  production "Un Vent de Folie." (1927 by Walery)
In the early 1960s I had the privilege to spend a month in France on a steel industry exchange scheme. We were taken to the Folies for an evening out. There were no artificial bananas but I can vouch for the ‘little else.’

The Bar at the Folies Bergère was made famous by Édouard Manet whose painting depicts a bar-girl, one of the demimondaines, standing before a mirror.

Bar in the Folies  Bergère - Édouard Manet (1881-82)
I suppose my knowledge of the English music hall is limited to the BBC series ‘The Good Old Day’ which ran from 1953 to 1983. It was a regular occurrence for someone to sing the songs made famous by the great Marie Lloyd whose life overlapped with both Sophie and Josephine Baker.

Marie Lloyd
(Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 License)
Marie Lloyd’s ability to add lewdness to the most innocent of lyrics led to frequent clashes with the guardians of morality. She first appeared in the USA in 1897, but in 1913 was initially refused entry for ‘moral turpitude. A story indicative of her reputation suggests that when peoples objected to a song “I Sits Among the Cabbages and Peas” with its double entendre, she altered the lyrics to “I sits among the cabbages and leeks.”

I suppose to make another link to Sophie’s “I Can’t Get Enough of …” we should finish with Marie:

For more musical entertainment make sure you see what others have provided at Sepia-saturday-128


barbara and nancy said...

I'd never heard of Marie Lloyd. She must have been a real kick in her day.
Interesting post. Love the pic of Josephine Baker.

Jo said...

I remember seeing Sophie Tucker on British TV once a looooong time ago, she died in '66 so I really am not sure when I saw her. I thought she was hilarious.

Obviously one has heard of the other two, but I don't remember ever hearing them sing. Made me think of "Our Gracie" too.

Titania said...

All of them great entertainers, and also suffragettes in their own wonderful way! Great post, Bob.

Wendy said...

Bob, is that you?? This post surprises me and I can barely type through the tears of laughter. And for the record, Manet's portrait of the bar seems much more innocent and mainstream than Miss Baker would have us believe. I think Miss Lloyd and I would have hit it off.

Bob Scotney said...

Wendy - I had to find something to keep me amused on a very wet Michigan day!

Karen S. said...

What an amazing should have been quite fun on a rainy day! I do like your assortment of Dames! Especially the banana skirt! I hope you're taking lots of cool photos of Michigan to share!

Brett Payne said...

That kept me amused too, Bob, thank you.

Little Nell said...

Excellent post Bob. I remember seeing Sophie Tucker on TV when I was a child too; she was quite a character. I love anythng to do with the old music hall theatre and Marie Lloyd’s ‘My Old Man’ came into our heads recently when a pair of linnets appeared in our garden - obscure reference:) As for Miss Baker- what a girl!

Oregon Gifts of Comfort and Joy said...

Wonderful post! I was cracking up all throughout the clip of Sophie Tucker on What's My Line?

That banana peel suit is quite something, lol.


Kathy M.

Joy said...

What a great trio of performers, the earthy to the exotic. I would love to go back in time to visit a music hall. What's My Line always makes me laugh.

(Queenmothermamaw) Peggy said...

Marie Lloyd is a new name to me too. That video with Sophie Tucker was priceless. I remember her. Great post.

Postcardy said...

I remember watching What's My Line when I was young. I thought it was a silly show then, but now I think that clip with Sophie Tucker is hilarious and entertaining.

Rob From Amersfoort said...

That's one large gramophone, very nice!

Jana Last said...

Interesting post! Very funny clip from What's My Line. Thanks for sharing.

Bees Knees Daily said...

Great post Bob. I've learned so much this week about the "Red Hot Mama's". The What's My Line show with Sophie Tucker was a classic. Love the Manet picture as well.

Linda@VS said...

Thanks for a good laugh! These "ladies" were great fun!

barbara and nancy said...

I got stopped at the "What's my line" show when I saw Dorothy Kilgallen. She was the aunt of an old boyfriend of mine. She had been long dead when I met him, though, so I never got to meet her. Now I'm going to go back and read the rest of your post.


Moral turpitude?
Isn't there a cream for that?
Good thing humor prevailed and is still appreciated nowaday.

Teresa Wilson Rogers said...

Wonderful post Bob - these are my kind of ladies! I especially loved Sophie's quote - she was spot on!

Linda said...

Love the snippet from What's my line. Josephine Baker I know well but Marie Lloyd is new to me, delightful!