Gertrude Hoffman’s main claim to fame was that she was the first person to bring the Salome dance to the American stage in 1908. Not to be confused with the Berlin and Hollywood character actress of the same name, this Gertrude Hoffman was born Gertrude Hayes in Canada ca. 1880. She started out as a dance hall girl in San Francisco as Kitty Hayes; she later took the name of her husband, composer Max Hoffman. A performer, choreographer and songwriter, she was already working on Broadway by 1903. She plundered heavily from the world of serious dance: interpretive dance, ballet.
Her act often featured an entire corps of dancers, the Hoffman Girls, introduced after touring vaudeville in the teens and twenties. After the mid-twenties she sort of dropped off the map, although some think she may have been teaching during that time. She passed away in 1955. For a real trove of Hoffmanania, see the Brooklyn Public Library’s post on her here and the Travalanche guest post by the BPL’s Ivy Marvel here.
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.