The Dolly Sisters

All posts tagged The Dolly Sisters

The Plantation Club, The Acacias and One Dolly Sister

Published February 15, 2013 by Gary Chapman

The Plantation, a Broadway cabaret–restaurant formerly known as the Folies Bergère was located in the Winter Garden building and opened on 15 February 1922, with an all-coloured show in a Southern plantation setting staged and conceived by Lew Leslie.

This was the inspiration behind the creation of the Southern Plantation setting at the Acacias nightclub in Paris in June 1922 with a show that featured Jenny Dolly and Clifton Webb.

At the New York Plantation, you went  through a gate at the entrance and were immediately inside a big room where there was a log cabin with a big black Mammy cooking waffles. The 45-minute show had a Mississippi river set and was called Night-time Frolics in Dixieland, starring Florence Mills from Shuffle Along and other featured performers and six chorus girls. The music was by the Red Devils’ Jazz Band, who looked as if they came straight from a farm in Virginia playing Southern melodies. Variety observed that the New York night-going public did not mind the $2 cover charge, because it was a novelty and well worth watching. The Plantation was a huge success and anticipated the rise of the Harlem nightclubs that were soon to proliferate, and Lew Leslie became the pre-eminent figure in their development.

The Dolly Sisters: Icons of the Jazz Age out now in paperback and e-book versions


The Million Dollar Dollies

Published February 13, 2013 by Gary Chapman

The Dolly Sisters described as ‘New York’s greatest stage attraction’ began filming The Million Dollar Dollies in February 1918. This was their only known appearance together on the screen.

In essence, the film played up the Dollies as the Dollies, ‘varying in behaviour from pouty and pert to coquettish and kittenish’.

The had an amazing wardrobe, which allegedly comprised forty-eight different costumes created especially for them by the world famous Lucile (Lady Duff Gordon).

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The Dolly Sisters: Icons of the Jazz Age out now in paperback and e-book versions

A post about The Million Dollar Dollar Dollies

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The Dolly Sisters and The Battle of the Flowers

Published February 11, 2013 by Gary Chapman

The Dolly Sisters often appeared in the Battle of the Flowers at Cannes in early February. Once they were dressed alike in white in a carriage, decorated with carnations of various tones and lilac, which was drawn by two black horses. They stole the show and were the immediate target for all the press photographers.

What was the Battle of the flowers? One of the major events of Carnival, the first flower parade was organised along the Promenade des Anglais in Cannes in 1876 and had by the 1920s become a huge event. Every species of wheeled vehicle decorated as flower floats slowly appeared from the casino gardens, and a prize for the best decorated was awarded. They were overflowing with pretty young girls, who threw flowers into the crowd of spectators, although the original idea was to throw flowers at those they desired.

Dollies BOF

The Dolly Sisters: Icons of the Jazz Age out now in paperback and e-book versions

Rosie Dolly’s Divorce February 1931

Published February 11, 2013 by Gary Chapman

Rosie Dolly was at her villa at Saint-Jean on the exclusive Cap Ferrat, on the Rieviera, when her divorce from Mortimer Davis Junior became final in February 1931. A large settlement was made out of court, estimated at the original quoted sum of $2 million in lieu of alimony.

Rosie Dolly 1

The Dolly Sisters: Icons of the Jazz Age out now in paperback and e-book versions

The Dolly Sisters in New York, February 1922

Published February 8, 2013 by Gary Chapman

The Dolly Sisters arrived back in New York in early February 1922, following a two-year stay in Europe for a short vaudeville engagement.

They installed themselves in a magnificent duplex apartment at 33 West 67th Street that belonged to a film magnate of international popularity who had just departed on a European trip. They had brought a portable bar from London and, with no regard for prohibition, shook their cocktail shakers and offered their guests a range of delectable concoctions.

The Dollies had arrived, newly divorced, with forty-two dance numbers and forty-two changes of costume for their limited vaudeville engagement of five weeks at the Palace Theatre and two other Keith theatres each week. The productions were staged by Kuy Kendall, whom they had befriended when they appeared together at the Shuberts’ Midnight Revue in 1918.


The Dolly Sisters: Icons of the Jazz Age out now in paperback and e-book versions

The Dolly Sisters last public performance together

Published February 8, 2013 by Gary Chapman

On 7 February 1928, the Dolly Sisters made their last public performance together and their only public appearance that year on the Riviera at the Ambassadeurs restaurant, part of the Casino in Cannes, in a charity gala in aid of local charities.

The excitement was such that one report announced ‘the event promises to be the biggest of the season’. Dressed by their old favourite, Patou, who was in the audience with Jacques Wittouck (one of Jenny’s suitors) and Mortimer Davis Junior (Rosie’s husband), the Dollies wore white diamante hooped dresses festooned with pink roses, head-dresses flaunting huge pink feathers and little black gloves.

Their entrance was greeted with keen applause, and after dancing they put up for auction a black and diamond vanity case, which was sold first for $2,000), then returned and sold again for $1,200. In total they raised $5,200, which was given to local charities.

Dollies in Cannes

The Dolly Sisters: Icons of the Jazz Age out now in paperback and e-book versions

Jenny Dolly in Honeymoon Express, February 1913

Published February 6, 2013 by Gary Chapman

The Shubert show, The Honeymoon Express, was launched on 6 February 1913 at the Winter Garden Theatre, New York starring Gaby Deslys, Harry Pilcer, Al Jolson and also featured Jenny Dolly and Harry Fox (who she would later marry). It also had some catchy, bright music by Jean Schwartz, Rosie Dolly’s future husband.

According to Sime of Variety Jenny Dolly ‘looked really sweet’ in her two gowns designed by Melville Ellis ‘and showed up the overdressed Gaby, who came after.’

Finally, after a performance comprised entirely of the understudies, Sime decided that Jenny in Gaby’s role was better and observed slyly: ‘to state she was good would be putting it mildly . . . should Miss Deslys ever, through illness or other causes, miss a performance, there is a treat in store.’


The Dolly Sisters: Icons of the Jazz Age out now in paperback and e-book versions