Stars of Vaudeville #860: Madame A. Strakai
Today is the birthday of Anna Christiansen (1886-1953), better known by the professional name Madame A. Strakai.
Born Anna Annisman in Magilure, Russia, she was second generation circus folk who learned trick riding, wire walking, trapeze and ballet dancing from childhood. Her stage name came from her first husband, with whom she had a bareback riding act. Her second husband was Jorgen Christiansen. With him, she had a bigger horse act (that included over two dozen stallions), and also developed the act known as Madame A. Strakai’s Siberian Spits Dogs. They performed with the Moscow Circus until forced to flee the Revolution. They then gradually worked their way through the capitals of Western Europe, eventually making it to the U.S. by 1923. In the decades that followed, they played big time vaudeville, and Ringling Brothers and Cole Brothers circuses. By the time Madame Strakai passed away in 1953, the pair had settled in Fulton, Indiana.
For more on 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