Skip to content
1981
Volume 4, Issue 1
  • ISSN: 2052-4013
  • E-ISSN: 2052-4021

Abstract

Eva Tanguay (1878–1947), although little known today, was one of the most famous and wealthy actresses in America in the first three decades of the twentieth century. Tanguay’s vaudeville success was built on her playing a wild, racialized, highly sexed, financially and socially emancipated woman, who was nonetheless affectionate and warm. Scholarship to date has considered how Tanguay used the offensive stereotype of the ‘Coon’ associated with African Americans to achieve her huge commercial success, but less attention has been paid to how she used the symbolism and materiality of her costumes in conjunction with her racialized appearance and comportment to achieve her stardom. This article, therefore, examines how Tanguay expressed her ‘wild’ persona using costumes and comportment that blended established stereotypes that her audiences associated with the era’s dime museums, natural history museums, circuses, ethnographic expositions, human zoos and the conventions of minstrelsy. This article also reveals that Tanguay’s costumes and comportment were greatly influenced by a popular French performance style, the . This genre indicated the importance of a bodily comportment which animated costumes that was a highly popular sexualized and racialized performance style associated with cancan dancers that came from France’s experiences of ethnographic entertainment. This article thus traces how, as Tanguay’s star rose, her performance style increasingly blended trans-Atlantic conventions in costume and comportment to craft a wild persona that expressed the era’s tensions around changing gender roles, immigration and race in America.

Loading

Article metrics loading...

/content/journals/10.1386/scp.4.1.25_1
2019-06-01
2024-07-21
Loading full text...

Full text loading...

References

  1. Abrevaya Stein, S.. ( 2008), Plumes: Ostrich Feathers, Jews, and a Lost World of Global Commerce, New Haven, CT:: Yale University Press;.
    [Google Scholar]
  2. Anon. ( 1895a;), ‘ At Koster and Bial’s. ’, New York Times, 19 November.
    [Google Scholar]
  3. Anon. ( 1895b;), ‘ Notes of the stage. ’, New York Times, 15 October.
    [Google Scholar]
  4. Anon. (dir.) ( 1895c), The Engineer, E. Bertram and B. Willard, People’s Theatre, New York, 18 August–unknown .
    [Google Scholar]
  5. Anon. ( 1902;), ‘ Andrew Mack in “Tom Moore”, stock companies and vaudeville houses offer bills running through comedy, melodrama and variety. ’, Brooklyn Eagle, 4 November, p. 14.
    [Google Scholar]
  6. Anon. ( 1906a;), ‘ Eva Tanguay in the Sambo Girl tonight. ’, The Cornell Daily Sun, 26:172, 17 May, p. 7, https://cdsun.library.cornell.edu/cgi-bin/cornell?a=d&d=CDS19060517.2.26.2. Accessed 10 March 2019.
    [Google Scholar]
  7. Anon. ( 1906b;), ‘ Cyclonic Eva Tanguay. ’, The Cornell Daily Sun, XXVII:35, 3 November, p. 7, https://cdsun.library.cornell.edu/?a=d&d=CDS19061103, Accessed 10 March 2019.
    [Google Scholar]
  8. Anon. ( 1909;), ‘ Eva Tanguay on “Imitators”. ’, Variety, XII:13, p. 5, 6, https://archive.org/details/variety14-1909-03/page/n3. Accessed 10 March 2019.
    [Google Scholar]
  9. Anon. ( 1913a;), ‘ Eva Tanguay: Appears with vaudeville troupe at Court Square Theatre. ’, The Republican, 21 February (republished in Variety, 29:13, 28 February, p. 24), https://archive.org/stream/variety29-1913-02#page/n147/mode/1up/search/Tanguay . Accessed 10 March 2019.
    [Google Scholar]
  10. Anon. ( 1913b;), ‘ Tanguay as much a magnet as ever. ’, Springfield Daily News, 21 February (republished in Variety, 29:13, 28 February, p. 24), https://archive.org/stream/variety29-1913-02#page/n147/mode/1up/search/Tanguay .
    [Google Scholar]
  11. Anon. ( 1915a;), ‘ With the women. ’, Variety, 38:11, 14 May, p. 7, http://www.archive.org/stream/variety38-1915-05#page/n42/mode/2up. Accessed 10 March 2019.
    [Google Scholar]
  12. Anon. ( 1915b), Variety, 38:12, 21 May (originally appeared in the Pittsburg Sun) , http://www.archive.org/stream/variety38-1915-05#page/n1/mode/2up/search/Tanguay. Accessed 19 March 2019.
    [Google Scholar]
  13. Berglund, J.. ( 2006), Cannibal Fictions: American Explorations of Colonialism, Race, Gender, and Sexuality, Madison, WI:: University of Wisconsin Press;.
    [Google Scholar]
  14. Berkin, N.. ( 2014;), ‘ Cartomania and the scriptive album: Cartes-de-visite as objects of social practice. ’, in M. Schweitzer, and J. Zerdy. (eds), Performing Objects and Theatrical Things, London:: Palgrave Macmillan;, pp. 4962.
    [Google Scholar]
  15. Boskin, J.. ( 1986), Sambo: The Rise and Demise of an American Jester, New York:: Oxford University Press;.
    [Google Scholar]
  16. Brayshaw, E.. ( 2014;), ‘ Embodying a modern luxury: The White Peacock, distinction and desire on the early-twentieth-century Broadway stage. ’, Luxury, 1:1, pp. 15584.
    [Google Scholar]
  17. Brokken, A.,, De Keyzer, B., and Van Godtsenhoven, K.. (eds) ( 2014), Birds of Paradise: Plumes and Feathers in Fashion, Tielt:: Lannoo Publishing;.
    [Google Scholar]
  18. Brown Lavitt, P.. ( 1999;), ‘ First of the red hot mamas: “Coon Shouting” and the Jewish Ziegfeld girl. ’, American Jewish History, 87:4, pp. 25390.
    [Google Scholar]
  19. Casey, K. B.. ( 2010;), ‘ Cross-dressers and race-crossers: Intersections of gender and race in American vaudeville, 1900–1930. ’, doctoral thesis, New York:: University of Rochester;.
    [Google Scholar]
  20. Casey, K. B.. ( 2015;), ‘ Sex, savagery and the woman who made vaudeville famous. ’, Frontiers: A Journal of Women’s Studies, 36:1, pp. 87112.
    [Google Scholar]
  21. Diamond, E.. (ed.) ( 2006), Performance and Cultural Politics, New York:: Routledge;.
    [Google Scholar]
  22. Emmons, C. B.. ( 1916;), ‘ Letter to Lee Shubert. ’, New York:: The Shubert Archive;, 3 May.
    [Google Scholar]
  23. Erdman, A. L.. ( 2004), Blue Vaudeville: Sex, Morals and the Mass Marketing of Amusement, 1895–1915, Jefferson, MO:: McFarland & Company, Inc;.
    [Google Scholar]
  24. Erdman, A. L.. ( 2012), Queen of Vaudeville: The Story of Eva Tanguay, Ithaca, NY:: Cornell University Press;.
    [Google Scholar]
  25. Fashioning the New Woman: 1890–1925 ( 2012–13), Daughters of the American Revolution;, Washington, DC:, 5 October31 August, https://www.dar.org/museum/fashioning-new-woman-1890-1925-0. Accessed 11 December 2018.
    [Google Scholar]
  26. ‘freak show’ ( 2018), Merriam-Webster, Springfield, MA:: Merriam-Webster, Inc;, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/freak%20show. Accessed 11 December 2018.
    [Google Scholar]
  27. Glenn, S. A.. ( 2000), Female Spectacle: The Theatrical Roots of Modern Feminism, Cambridge, MA:: Harvard University Press;.
    [Google Scholar]
  28. Goodall, J.. ( 2002), Performance and Evolution in the Age of Darwin: Out of the Natural Order, London:: Routledge;.
    [Google Scholar]
  29. Gordon, R. B.. ( 2001;), ‘ From Charcot to Charlot: Unconscious imitation and spectatorship in French cabaret and early cinema. ’, Critical Inquiry, 27:3, pp. 51549.
    [Google Scholar]
  30. Gordon, R. B.. ( 2004;), ‘ Fashion and the white savage in the Parisian music hall. ’, Fashion Theory, 8:3, pp. 267300.
    [Google Scholar]
  31. Gordon, R. B.. ( 2009), Dances with Darwin 1875–1910: Vernacular Modernity in France, Farnham:: Ashgate Publishing Limited;.
    [Google Scholar]
  32. Hohman, V. J.. ( 2011), Russian Culture and Theatrical Performance in America, 1891–1933, New York:: Palgrave Macmillan;.
    [Google Scholar]
  33. Major Truman, B. C.. ( 1893), History of the World’s Fair, Being a Complete and Authentic Description of the Colombian Exposition from Its Inception, Philadelphia, PA:: Mammoth Publishing Co;.
    [Google Scholar]
  34. McClintock, A.. ( 1995), Imperial Leather: Race, Gender and Sexuality, New York:: Routledge;.
    [Google Scholar]
  35. Merrill, B.. ( 1910;), ‘ The Tanguay Rag. ’, Waco, TX:: Balyor University;, The Frances G. Spencer Collection of American Popular Sheet Music, f1982_202_01 .
    [Google Scholar]
  36. Miller, K. H.. ( 2010), Segregating Sound: Inventing Folk and Pop Music in the Age of Jim Crow, Durham, NC:: Duke University Press;.
    [Google Scholar]
  37. Monks, A.. ( 2010), The Actor in Costume, London:: Palgrave Macmillan;.
    [Google Scholar]
  38. Munns, J., and Richards, P.. ( 1999), The Clothes That Wear Us: Essays on Dressing and Transgressing in Eighteenth-Century Culture, Newark, NJ:: The University of Delaware Press;.
    [Google Scholar]
  39. Parezo, N. J., and Fowler, D. D.. ( 2007), Anthropology Goes to the Fair: The 1904 Louisiana Purchase Exposition, Lincoln, NE:: University of Nebraska Press;.
    [Google Scholar]
  40. Patterson, M. H.. (ed.) ( 2008), The American New Woman Revisited: A Reader, 1894–1930, New Brunswick, NJ:: Rutgers University Press;.
    [Google Scholar]
  41. Perley, F. L.. (prod.) ( 1902), The Chaperons, F. Ranken and I. Witmark , New York Theatre;, 5 June26 July.
    [Google Scholar]
  42. Rydell, R. W.. ( 1984), All the World’s a Fair: Visions of Empire at American International Expositions, 1876–1916, Chicago, IL:: The University of Chicago Press;.
    [Google Scholar]
  43. Schweitzer, M.. ( 2009), When Broadway Was the Runway: Theatre, Fashion and American Culture, Philadelphia, PA:: University of Pennsylvania Press;.
    [Google Scholar]
  44. Tanguay, E.. and Joseph Gates Management (prods.) ( 1905), The Sambo Girl, H.B. Smith and G. Kerker, West End Theatre , 16–23 October.
    [Google Scholar]
  45. Trav, S. D.. ( 2005), No Applause – Just Throw Money: Or the Book That Made Vaudeville Famous, New York:: Faber and Faber;.
    [Google Scholar]
  46. Ward, D.. ( 2001;), ‘ Population growth, migration and urbanization, 1860–1920. ’, in T. F. McIlwraith, and R. K. Muller. (eds), North America: The Historical Geography of a Changing Continent, Lanham, MD:: Rowman & Littlefield Publishers Inc.;, pp. 285305.
    [Google Scholar]
  47. Brayshaw, E.. ( 2019;), ‘ Ethnographic spectacle and trans-Atlantic performance: Unravelling the costumes of vaudeville”s “Queen”, Eva Tanguay. ’, Studies in Costume & Performance, 4:1, pp. 2541, doi: 10.1386/scp.4.1.25_1
    [Google Scholar]
/content/journals/10.1386/scp.4.1.25_1
Loading
/content/journals/10.1386/scp.4.1.25_1
Loading

Data & Media loading...

  • Article Type: Article
Keyword(s): costume; ethnographic entertainment; Eva Tanguay; vaudeville
This is a required field
Please enter a valid email address
Approval was a success
Invalid data
An error occurred
Approval was partially successful, following selected items could not be processed due to error