Wednesday, October 27, 2004

Weekly trip to the library


Weekly trip to the library to go over newly arrived inter-library loan material. . . . Today, I looked at the Baltimore Post, and managed to turn up a Denishawn review, and a review of the Ziegfeld Follies production of  "Louie XIV." (Louise Brooks was in the company of each of these productions at the time of their Baltimore appearance.) Also found a review of The Street of Forgotten Men at the time it was screened in Baltimore in August, 1925. I was lucky to find what I did, as theBaltimore Post was one of the worst big city newspapers I have ever encountered. It was little more than a tabloid, and an uninteresting and un-fun one at that.
Also went through a couple months of the Chicago Daily News from 1934, where I managed to find an article and some advertisements for the dance team of Dario & Brooks and their appearance, along with torch song singer Helen Morgan, at the Chez Paree - "Chicago's Smartest Supper Club." There was no cover charge - and dinner was only $2.50. Can you imagine?
[ BTW: If you are not familiar with Morgan, do check her out - she is terrific: "Her small, pale appearance and her sweet, artless, and blues-tinged voice made her the ideal performer of the new sort of popular song that was being written in the 1920s and '30s: ironic, sometimes bitter, distinctly urban, and full of the disappointment, loneliness, and joyless hedonism that filled the smoky clubs."]
The day's biggest haul came from a newspaper from the smallest city - Cumberland, Maryland. I looked through about a month worth of the Cumberland Evening Times, where I found a bunch of articles, advertisements, feature photos and a review of the 1923 Denishawn performance in that town. Louise Brooks was mentioned in one of the advertisements, and was twice pictured in group photographs of the Denishawn company.
A footnote: there are interesting happenstances I run across while looking for Brooks material. For example, when Brooks and the Ziegfeld Follies appeared in Baltimore in February of 1925, also in town for a performance was the Denishawn Dance company. Brooks had been ejected from Denishawn less than a year before. Did she notice the Denishawn performance? . . . . And in Chicago, when she was performing with Dario at a supper club, the Chicago Daily News ran a big feature on movie stars (such as Clara Bow and Raymond Hatton) and their failed attempts at a comeback. Did Brooks notice this article? One can only wonder.

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