Central Library

Portrait of June Elvidge

June Elvidge was a silent film actress with a relatively brief but highly productive career. Elvidge established her character in "The Lure of Women" (1915) as a seductress and was then on primarily cast in roles as vamps or vixens. She starred in over 70 silent films before the sound era, after which her film career declined and resurfaced in a series of vaudeville theater performances before she retired from show business altogether in 1925. In this photograph, Elvidge is presumably nude from the waist up with her torso turned away from the camera.

Portrait of Kill Kare Kouple, John Hennings

John and Winnie Henning were early vaudeville performers who comprised the Kill Kare Kouple. They adopted this name with a popular act they performed together wherein Winnie would play various instruments while John danced his famed "Grasshopper Dance", the two exchanging comedic banter all the while. They toured overseas and with the onset of World War I, John would perform in hospitals and on military bases for servicemen and women.

Portrait of Lawrence Newman

This portrait of Lawrence Newman, depicts a very dapper figure. Newman attired in a very distinguished fashion wears a dark suit accentuated with a light colored pocket square. He wears a white button up shirt, black tie, and dark fedora. Newman is centered in this photograph gazing intently at the viewer, with his right hand resting in his suit pocket. The bright backdrop appears chemically enhanced, creating vertical patterns to the left of Newman. The stark background enhances the darkly garbed figure, resulting in a striking character.

Portrait of Leo F. Forbstein

Leo F. Forbstein was an American film music director and orchestra conductor. He was originally from St. Louis, Missouri and worked with orchestras throughout the state including that of the Newman Theater in Kansas City where he was the principal conductor. He later signed with Warner Bros. as one of the directors of the Vitaphone Orchestra, earning his first screen credit on "The Squall" in 1929. It was with this company that his success in the field began to gain recognition. At the 1937 Academy Awards, he won an Oscar as the head of the Warner Bros.

Portrait of Lester "Charles" Henderson

Lester "Charles" Henderson stands on the right side of the frame. The left side of his face is in the light and visible to the viewer with the right side of his face in shadow. Henderson is dressed dapperly in a dark suit and tie. The pocket square peeks adds some variance to the darkness of the suit and the newsboy cap adds a little playfulness. Henderson holds a lit cigarette in his right hand and a monogrammed cigarette case containing the initials “CLH” in the other hand. The background surrounding Henderson is chemically manipulated to accentuate Henderson’s profile.

Portrait of Louise Riley

In this portrait, Louise stands in a dramatic theatrical pose. Garbed in a strapless white dress gathered at her waist and again at the hips, Riley gazes up to her left as if in thought. Flowers secured to her bodice and hair act as harbingers of tender gentility. She delicately holds a piece of white fabric aloft behind her which Orval Hixon employs to create an ethereal quality to the portrait. She stands barefoot and on pointe as if yearning for something just out of reach. Her back-lit figure remains partially engulfed by eerie darkness.

Portrait of M'lle. Rhea

Mademoiselle Hortense Rhea (September 4, 1844 – May 5, 1899) was a Belgium-born French actress whose popularity extended to the Russian Empire and later the United States of America. The charm of her accent, as well as her beguiling smile, would help endear her to her audiences. Orphaned at an early age, then raised in a convent, Rhea would later be accepted to study at the Conservatoire de Paris. From there, her career would take her to far-flung climes an orphaned child of the era would normally only read about.

Portrait of Margret Breen

Margret Breen was originally born in Missouri but moved to California to pursue an acting career. She was busy in the 1930s, starring in films such as "Heads Up" (1930), "Selling Shorts" (1931) and "It Might Be Worse" (1931). She was married to fellow actor Art Hamburger. Here we see a frontal view of her holding her hands listlessly over her chest as she looks over her left shoulder. A large rose in her hair greets the viewer while her expression appears slightly annoyed. A photomanipulation by Hixon circumvents the shadow of her profile with a bright halo effect.

Portrait of Marie Dressler

Although she did not consider herself movie-star petite or pretty, Marie Dressler's expressive face and superb comedic timing made her a beloved figure during Hollywood's Golden Age. The Canadian born actress was 42 when she moved from the stage to her first feature film alongside Charlie Chaplin in 1914. She became a top box office attraction in the early 1930s. Dressler won a best-actress Oscar in 1931 for "Min and Bill" and another nomination a year later for "Emma". This full body-length photograph conveys the expressive presence that Dressler had on her public.

Portrait of Marilyn Miller in Black

The number of girls named Marilyn rose exponentially in the 1920s and early 1930s in homage to Marilyn Miller. Miller was one of the era's most popular Broadway stars. She was an actress, a dancer and a singer. As the daughter of Vaudeville-performing parents, by the age of 5 she had become a member of the family act. Miller joined the Ziegfeld Follies, cemented her fame by singing "Look for the Silver Lining" in the musical comedy "Sally" and starred in the 1925 hit "Sunny" for Ziegfeld rival Charles Dillingham. Two of her three film appearances came in adaptations of those shows.

Portrait of Marilyn Miller in White

The number of girls named Marilyn rose exponentially in the 1920s and early 30s in homage to Marilyn Miller, one of the era's most popular Broadway stars. An actress, dancer and singer, she was the daughter of Vaudeville-performing parents who incorporated her into their family act when she was 5 years old. Miller joined the Ziegfeld Follies, cemented her fame by singing "Look for the Silver Lining" in the musical comedy "Sally", and starred in the 1925 hit "Sunny" for Ziegfeld rival Charles Dillingham. Two of her three film appearances came in adaptations of those shows.

Portrait of Marjorie Gateson

Born in Brooklyn, New York, Marjorie Gateson was an actress of stage, film and television. At the age of 21, Gateson made her Broadway debut in the 1912 musical “The Dove of Peace”. Other Broadway productions were soon to follow including the 1913 play “The Little Café”, the 1917 musical “Have a Heart”, the 1927 musical comedy “Oh Ernest!”, and the 1930 comedy “As Good as New”. Gateson relocated to Hollywood where her film career would begin. Gateson was cast in secondary roles where she often portrayed aloof socialite characters.

Portrait of Maurice Barrett

Maurice Barrett staged, produced, and performed in a number of Broadway productions in the early 20th century. Notable productions included: Smooth As Silk (1921), The Hindu (1922), Straight Thru the Door (1928), and The Traitor (1930). Barrett was best known for his roles portraying a Hindu character in "The Master of Ballantrae" and "The Eyes of the Youth", recognized as such in a Washington newspaper, The Spokesman-Review in 1922. He assumes that role in this portrait, characterizing a Hindu figure in wearing a velvet turban and Nehru-collared shirt.

Portrait of Mike Helm

Mike Helm, along with his brothers Ferdinand Jr. and Joseph Helm, founded two of the world's first full-time amusement parks named Electric Park in Kansas City, Missouri in 1899. The first Electric Park was built in land adjacent to the Helm Brothers Brewery (at the time the largest brewery in the world) in the East Bottoms in 1899. The second was built in 1907 and remained in operation until the end of the 1925 season. Animator and entrepreneur Walt Disney cited the second Kansas City Electric Park as his primary inspiration for the design of the first modern theme park, Disneyland.

Portrait of Miss Egan Dressed in Black

Miss Egan, born with the name Mary Florence Cecilia Egan, was a violinist and bandleader during the 1920s through the 1930s. Her career started from the pit orchestras of Hollywood productions until she formed her own all-female orchestra in 1924 called Babe Egan's Hollywood Redheads. The group played in vaudeville along the West Coast and eventually went on tour in the Orpheum vaudeville circuit for many years. In 1933, they toured Europe with a 16 piece band, which included pianist Dorothy Sauter and saxophonist Geraldine Stanley. Egan retired in the 1940s.

Portrait of Miss Egan Dressed in White

Miss Egan, born with the name Mary Florence Cecilia Egan, was a violinist and bandleader during the 1920s through the 1930s. Her career started from the pit orchestras of Hollywood productions until she formed her own all-female orchestra in 1924 called Babe Egan's Hollywood Redheads. The group played in vaudeville along the West Coast and eventually went on tour in the Orpheum vaudeville circuit for many years. In 1933, they toured Europe with a 16 piece band, which included pianist Dorothy Sauter and saxophonist Geraldine Stanley. Egan retired in the 1940s.

Portrait of Ms. Nichols

This portrait depicts the matriarchal figure of Ms. Nichols. The dignified character is captured from the waist up, wearing dark Victorian style clothing. The attire is concealing and covers the figure up to her chin. Around the collar, white lace lapels encircle her neck and run down to the bodice of her outfit, the mid-section appears to be wrapped with dark satin. Ms. Nichols has perfectly set hair that is held in place on top of her head. She looks intently through wired rim glasses at some type of periodical.

Portrait of Nan Halperin

Nan Halperin appeared on the vaudeville stage at the age of fifteen performing impersonations and comedic musical numbers. Over the course of her career, she became known as America’s “Famous Satirist” for her impersonations of the life stages of ordinary American women as well as the "Wonder Girl" because of how fast she was able to change costumes while doing these impersonations. This full-length photograph pictures Halperin dipping a toe into a fictitious water stream that fades into an atmospheric, windswept background created by Hixon's photo manipulations.

Portrait of Nan Halperin in White Trimmed Coat

Nan Halperin appeared on the vaudeville stage at the age of fifteen performing impersonations and comedic musical numbers. Over the course of her career, she became known as America’s “Famous Satirist” for her impersonations of the life stages of ordinary American women as well as the "Wonder Girl" because of how fast she was able to change costumes while doing these impersonations. In this photograph, Halperin sports a plush, white fur-trimmed coat, silk blouse, and soutache hat with a folded brim.

Portrait of Nan Halperin Seated

Nan Halperin appeared on the vaudeville stage at the age of fifteen performing impersonations and comedic musical numbers. Over the course of her career, she became known as America’s “Famous Satirist” for her impersonations of the life stages of ordinary American women as well as the "Wonder Girl" because of how fast she was able to change costumes while doing these impersonations. In this full-length photograph from 1920, she is depicted in a seated position just to the right of center with her knees pulled up close to her chest and hands clasped in front of her shins.

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