Today is the birthday of Odette Myrtil (Odette Quignard, 1898-1978).
Odette (that was often her entire billing) was a second generation stage performer. She was born in Paris and attended a boarding school in Brussels, where she studied voice and violin. By age 13, she was already playing professionally, and for the next several years she divided her time between European variety halls and stage revues. In 1916 her career took off when she starred in one of London’s biggest stage hits of the World War One era The Bing Boys Are Here.
Success came to her in America in 1923 when she played the Palace, a venue to which she returned many times over the ensuing decade. The following year she appeared in The Vogues of 1924. Her Broadway career reached its pinnacle when she starred in The Cat and the Fiddle (1931-1932), with songs by Jerome Kern and which played for nearly a year during the depths of the Great Depression. She next went out to Hollywood where she played bit roles and small supporting parts for a couple of decades. You can see her in such films as Dodsworth (1936), Kitty Foyle (1940), Yankee Doodle Dandy (1942), The Palm Beach Story (1942), Rhapsody in Blue (1945), The Fighting Kentuckian (1949), Strangers on a Train (1951), and The Last Time I Saw Paris (1954). In 1959 she returned to Broadway one last time to appear in the musical Saratoga.
For more on Odette: go here.
To learn more about 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.