Saturday, August 1, 2020

Born Today August 1: Eva Tanguay


One of the first North American touring superstars, vaudvellian entertainer Eva Tanguay was born on this day in Marbleton, Quebec, Canada. The eccentric entertainer was known by several colorful nicknames, including "The Girl Who Made Vaudeville Famous," "Bombshell of Joy," "The Eccentric Comedienne," "The Wild Girl" (after one of the few films that she made) and "The I Don't Care Girl" (after a wildly famous song that she recorded in 1922).  The daughter of a Doctor, the family relocated to the U.S. (Massachusetts) when she was just a girl.  She was not naturally talented as a singer, but she was funny as hell and made wild and weird gesticulations when performing that made her an almost instant stage success.  She was mostly a stage performer, but as mentioned above, she also made records and even starred in a small number of films.  Her first appearance on film however was a 1902 short simply entitled Eva Tanguay in which she performed a couple of her highly comedic dances; it was an very early Biograph & American Mutoscope actuality film. She self-produced (either completely or partially) both of the films in which she starred. The first of these was Energetic Eva in 1916; and the second (the only one to have any surviving materials) was The Wild Girl, produced in part by Selznick Pictures and released in the September of 1917. Tanguay, who was a master at self-promotion, never met any publicity that she didn't like and pulled stunts just to get her name in the papers, lost a considerable sum in the stock market crash of 1929. She subsequently retired from the entertainment industry in the 1930's--though this was largely due to health reasons (she had progressive cataracts).  She was working on an autobiography when she died suddenly of a heart attack on the 11th of January in Los Angeles. She was laid to rest in what is now known as the Hollywood Forever Cemetery.  In 1953, Mitzi Gaynor played her in the highly fictionalized account of her life in the film The I Don't Care Girl.  Tanguay was known as much for her outlandish outfits as she was her over-the-top performances, below are a few of her get-ups.

[Source: A.J. (Find A Grave)]

[Source: A.J. (Find A Grave)]

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