Stars of Vaudeville #742: Madame Olympia DesVall

olympia_desvall_large

Born in Germany in 1876, Olympia DesVall was an equestrienne who performed not only with horses but also a troupe of trained dogs, and later birds. In written accounts, the animals were said to “adorably follow her all around the ring”. She played throughout France and Germany before making her first trip to the U.S. in 1907 to play the Hippodrome. In 1914, she returned to play the Barnum & Bailey Circus. 

image

The following year (and for years thereafter) she toured the Keith circuit with versions of the same act including an appearance at the Palace. Joe Laurie, Jr. said that she had “the best bird act in the business”.

She was still doing her act in 1920 — an item in a trade paper reports that she was suing a steamship company for the loss of many of the props and costumes pictures above (hopefully none of the dogs). After that, I can find nothing. One wonders if she wasn’t forced to retire because of the loss.

To find out more about  the history of vaudevilleconsult No Applause, Just Throw Money: The Book That Made Vaudeville Famous, available at Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and wherever nutty books are sold.

safe_image

And check out my new book: Chain of Fools: Silent Comedy and Its Legacies from Nickelodeons to Youtube, just released by Bear Manor Mediaalso available from amazon.com etc etc etc

chain%20of%20fools%20cvr%20front%20only-500x500

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: