A Post in Honor of Women’s History Month.
Helene Mora (1861-1903) was considered to be in the front ranks of American vaudevillians in the 1890s but died too young to have secured herself a lasting place in the public’s memory. Of English parentage, she was billed as “The Great Female Baritone” (what we today would call a contralto) and one finds countless references to her association with sentimental ballads, yet also sees her billed in some places as “The Comedy Sunbeam”. In 1890, she introduced Gussie Davis’s song “Send Back the Picture and the Old Wedding Ring” . Other songs she popularized included “Comrades”, “Soldiers”, “Au Revoir”, “Kathleen” and “Those Wedding Bells Shall Not Ring Out”. In 1897 and 1898, she startled vaudeville audiences by doing a turn as Hamlet in male drag. She was still going strong in 1902 when she topped the bill at Proctors 23rd Street Theatre with “special scenic effects”. Not long after this she took ill in her Brooklyn home (cancer) and did not recover.
To learn more history about 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.
And don’t miss my new book Chain of Fools: Silent Comedy and Its Legacies from Nickelodeons to Youtube, just released by Bear Manor Media, also available from amazon.com etc etc etc