Vintage Photos Featuring Arletty by Madame d’Ora

Arletty (1898 – 1992) was a French actress, singer, and fashion model. Born to a working-class family, she left home and pursued a modeling career, after her father’s death. She took the stage name “Arlette” based on the heroine of a story by Maupassant.

Her early career was dominated by the music hall, and she later appeared in plays and cabaret. Arletty was a stage performer for ten years before her film debut in 1930. Her career took off around 1936, when she appeared as the leading lady in the stage plays Les Joies du Capitole and Fric-Frac, in which she starred opposite Michel Simon. She later starred as Blanche in the French version of A Streetcar Named Desire.

She was imprisoned in 1945 for her wartime liaison with a German Luftwaffe officer, Hans-Jürgen Soehring, during the occupation of France. For her crimes she received a sentence of eighteen months imprisonment, most of which was served in a private chateau.

In 1995, the government of France issued a series of limited edition coins to commemorate the centenary of film that included a 100 Franc coin bearing her image.

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Arletty by Madame d’Ora, Paris, 1920 via

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Arletty by Madame d’Ora, 1929 via

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Arletty by Madame d’Ora, Paris, 1920 via

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Arletty by Madame d’Ora, Paris, 1920 via

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Arletty by Madame d’Ora, Paris, 1920 via

Amazing Vintage Photos of Loïe Fuller and the Serpentine Dance

in the 1890s the amazing serpentine dance became popular throughout Europe and the United States. The new dance was created by Loïe Fuller (1862 – 1928). Fuller was a visionary artist whose novel genre of performance combined billowing costumes with dazzling lights and projections to conjure transformative imagery of hypnotic beauty. Born in Chicago, Fuller embarked on an early theatrical career as an actress and singer in vaudeville, stock companies, and burlesque before developing the dance style that made her famous in the early 1890s. Through experiments with silk drapery and colored lights, she evolved her first Serpentine Dance. Thereafter, the genre became known as “serpentine dancing” and was widely imitated.

Her warm reception in Paris during a European tour persuaded Fuller to remain in France and continue her work. A regular performer at the Folies Bergère with works such as Fire Dance, Fuller became the embodiment of the Art Nouveau movement. Fuller’s pioneering work attracted the attention, respect, and friendship of many French artists and scientists, including Jules Chéret, Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec, François-Raoul Larche, Henri-Pierre Roché, Auguste Rodin, Franz von Stuck, Maurice Denis, Thomas Theodor Heine, Koloman Moser, Stéphane Mallarmé, and Marie Curie.

Although they later became rivals, Fuller helped the career of a young Isadora Duncan. Fuller helped Duncan ignite her European career in 1902 by sponsering independent concerts in Vienna and Budapest.

At the turn of the 20th century, Fuller brought dance to the cutting edge of modernity, and her energy and ambition made her one of the most influential American women of her era. Fuller died in Paris, France, on January 2, 1928.

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Portrait of Loïe Fuller, by Frederick Glasier, 1902 via

The Serpentine Dance on Film

This is an 1896 film of Fuller performing the dance by pioneering film-makers the Lumière brothers. It gives a hint of what her performance was like. The Serpentine Dance was a frequent subject of early motion pictures, as it highlighted the new medium’s ability to portray movement and light. Many other filmmakers produced their own versions, distributing prints that had been hand-tinted to evoke (though not quite reproduce) the appearance of colored light projection. Fuller also appeared in films by Segundo de Chomon, fx. in the 1908 silent Création de la Serpentine (1908).

Amazing Vintage Photos of La Belle Otéro

Carolina “La Belle” Otéro (4 November 1868 – 12 April 1965) was a Galician born dancer, actress, courtesan and possibly the worlds first film star.

Her given name was Agustina Otero Iglesias. After a troubled childhood she left home at age twelve and found small jobs in cafés, bordellos, and music halls. She married twice before finding a sponsor in Barcelona who moved with her to Marseilles in order to promote her dancing career in France. She soon left him and created the character of La Belle Otero, fancying herself an Andalusian gypsy.

At the age of twenty-one she joined the Follies Bergere in Paris. Otéro was pretty, confident, intelligent and with an attractive figure. After becoming the star of Follies Bergere she was a sought after courtesan to the wealthy and powerful men of the day. She associated herself with the likes of Prince Albert I of Monaco, King Edward VII of the United Kingdom, Kings of Serbia, and Kings of Spain as well as Russian Grand Dukes Peter and Nicholas, the Duke of Westminster and the writer Gabriele D’Annunzio. Her love affairs made her infamous, and the envy of many other notable female personalities of the day.

It was once said of her that her extraordinarily dark black eyes were so captivating that they were “of such intensity that it was impossible not to be detained before them”.

Six men reportedly committed suicide after their love affairs with Otero ended, although this has never been substantiated. It is a fact, however, that two men did fight a duel over her.

In August 1898, in St-Petersburg, the French film operator Félix Mesguich (an employee of the Lumière company) shot a one-minute reel of Otero performing the famous “Valse Brillante”, making her possibly the first film star in history.

Otéro retired after World War I. She had accumulated a massive fortune over the years, about US$25 million. Otéro died at the age of 97, by that time she had squandered all of her fortune away through her lavish lifestyle. In her final years she lived in a more and more pronounced state of poverty until she died of a heart attack in 1965 in her one-room apartment at the Hotel Novelty in Nice.

La Belle Otero via

La Belle Otero in an orientalizing costume for the Folies Bergere ... 

La Belle Otero in an orientalizing costume for the Folies Bergere, 1901

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La Belle Otero with Maria who portrayed her in the film “La Belle Otero”.

A Collection of Photos featuring the Incredibly Tightlaced Entertainer Polaire

Polaire (“Pole Star”), (real name Pauline Emilie-Marie Bouchard ) was Born in Algeria in 1874. She was a French music hall singer, dancer and actress. Her most successful period professionally was from the mid-1890s to the beginning of the First World War.

In France she had quickly made a name for herself and Toulouse-Lautrec portrayed her on a magazine cover in 1895. She then briefly tried her luck in New York, but without achieving major success. On her return to Paris she extended her range and went on to act in serious theatre. In 1909 she started to appear in silent films. In 1910 she returned to the musical stage and began a second tour of the United States, after which she appeared at the London Coliseum.

She struggled to find stage or screen roles as she aged. She returned to films in 1922, but in the declining years of her career had to be content with lesser parts. Her last was in 1935. She passed away in 1939, at age sixty-five, in Champigny-sur-Marne, Val-de-Marne, France. Her body was buried at the Cimetière du Centre, in the eastern Paris suburb of Champigny-sur-Marne.

Throughout her career Polaire was skilled in using her appearance to attract attention. In her early days as a café singer in the 1890s she wore very short skirts and also cropped her hair, fashions that did not become common in the rest of society until the 1920s. A brunette, she wore unusually heavy eye makeup, deliberately evocative of the Arab world. At a time when tightlacing among women was in vogue, she was famous for her tiny, corsetted waist, which was reported to have a circumference no greater than 16 inches (410 mm).  This accentuated her large bust, which was said to measure 38 inches (970 mm). She stood 5 feet 3 inches (1.60 m) tall. Her striking appearance, both on and off stage, contributed to her celebrity. For her 1910 supposed “debut” in New York she provocatively allowed herself to be billed in the advance publicity as “the ugliest woman in the world” and departing on a transatlantic liner she was apparently accompanied by a “black slave”. Returning to America in 1913, she brought a diamond-collared pet pig, Mimi, and wore a nose-ring. Talk of her figure and her lavish overdressing in fur coats and dazzling jewels preceded her appearances wherever she went.

Polaire showing of her waist, 1900

Polaire pretending to read via

Carte F.C & Cie – Cliché Boyer & Bert – Vers 1905

Polaire wearing a trademark coat

Polaire dans Le Friquet – Octobre 1904

Polaron on stage, 1904 via

Polaire with her “Black Slave” via