The French chanteuse had been a star of Paris and London music halls for seven years when she made her American debut at the kick-off of Oscar Hammerstein’s Olympia in 1895. She was to return to enchant American audiences several times with her suggestive repertoire of alternating French and English songs — inspiring an entire generation of American songstresses in the bargain (notably, Nora Bayes). The name Guilbert was synonymous with the affecting use of facial expression and gesture to help communicate a song. Her last American appearance was in 1928.
Here she is singing “Quand on vous aime comme ça”:
To find out more about these variety artists and the history of vaudeville, consult No Applause, Just Throw Money: The Book That Made Vaudeville Famous, available at Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and wherever nutty books are sold.
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