Maud Allan: The Original Salome Dancer

Maud Allan as Salome, with the head of John the Baptist
There is some uncertainty about the birthdate of Maud Allan, although some sources give August 27, 1873. She is most famous for having conceived, devised and performed an influential dance interpretation of Salome, inspired by Oscar Wilde’s play, beginning in 1906. By 1908,  the dance was so wildly popular it spawned scores of imitators both in London and in American vaudeville. For more on those many Salomes go here.

Canadian born Beulah Maude Durrant (her real name) studied in Berlin to be a concert pianist and was later driven from her adopted city San Francisco when her brother was tried and found guilty of a notorious murder. Around the turn of the century she published one of the first sex manuals before becoming an interpretive dancer. In 1918, she was involved in a sensational libel suit with many echoes of the Wilde trial, when she sued a British Member of Parliament for accusing her publicly of lesbianism and various other practices. (She was, in fact, a lesbian). Her last three decades were spent as a dance teacher. She passed away in Los Angeles in 1956.

To learn more about vaudeville and performers like Maud Allanconsult 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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