Central Library

Portrait of an Unknown Woman, Shadowland

In this photograph stands an unknown woman against a stark black background holding an issue of Shadowland, a popular theater magazine that circulated in the 1910s-20s. The figure wears a tattered shirt and skirt and polka-dotted headscarf as a pirate-inspired outfit. She holds a large issue of Shadowland that covers her midsection and that has been perhaps brightened by Hixon in the development process to stand out against the figure and the photograph as a whole, appearing almost as if it was transposed onto it.

Portrait of an Unknown WWI Pilot

This portrait is of a WWI pilot; however, Hixon plays with the notion of the identity of the man. There is no information as to if this man is a true pilot or a silent film actor dressed as pilot. Regardless of his status, the intimate shot captures the deep emotion residing in his facial expression, perhaps pondering all that he has seen over a burning cigarette. The pilot gear framing his face makes the profession appear as a part of him, claiming him as inseparable from his experience.

Portrait of Ann Pennington

Hixon's portrait emphasizes Ann Pennington's (1893-1971) magnetic appeal and big stage presence, but the diminutive star was actually less than five feet tall. A mainstay of Broadway musical revues such as the Ziegfield Follies and George White's Scandals, Pennington became famous for her youthful, vibrant dance performances. Unlike many other white stars of the day, Pennington acknowledged the contributions of black performers like Freddie Taylor, who taught Pennington her signature dance, the Black Bottom Charleston.

Portrait of Annette Kellerman

Australia-born Annette Kellerman took up swimming as treatment for a childhood condition that may have been mild polio and became a world-record holder in the sport. A pioneer of the one-piece bathing suit, she was famously arrested in Boston for indecency in 1907. The "Australian Mermaid" parlayed her notoriety into a successful career in Vaudeville and on the screen, making her feature film debut in 1914's "Neptune's Daughter." MGM turned her life story into a movie "Million Dollar Mermaid" starring Ester Williams in 1952.

Portrait of Annette Kellerman in dance

Australian dancer and swimmer Annette Kellerman (1887-1975) gained international fame and a long-lasting place in American vaudeville scene as the "Siren of the Sea." Kellerman had to wear leg braces as a child, but as an adult she was known as both a health advocate and a sex symbol. While Kellerman's dancing was secondary to her swimming and diving feats, she nevertheless integrated dance into her shows, which often featured performers posing as water nymphs.

Portrait of Armand Kaliz

Armand Kaliz was born in Paris, France in 1892. He made his Broadway debut in "The Hoyden" in 1907 and became successful in vaudeville and silent films. He appeared in films such as "The Temptress" (1926) with actresses such as Greta Garbo, making some 82 film appearances between 1917 and 1941. Many of his appearances were small so there are a number of films that exist where he is uncredited for his performance. In this portrait, he stares outward under a stern brow and is fixated on a captivating subject.

Portrait of Baby Rose Marie

Rose Marie Mazzetta was the last theatrical subject photographed by Orval Hixon in Kansas City. Mazzetta began performing as Baby Rose Marie at the tender age of three. She became an NBC radio star at age five and at age six made her acting debut in the 1929 musical short "Baby Marie: The Child Wonder." Mazzetta joined Rosemary Clooney, Helen O’Conner and Margaret Whiting in a musical revue, "4 Girls 4," that toured for eight years starting in the 1940’s.

Portrait of Beth Beri

Beth Beri was a dancer who was rumored to have made up to $3,000 a week in her prime. Sometimes she danced alone and sometimes, she partnered with others such as Jay Velle and Paul O'Neill. She appeared in two musical revues (Jack and Jill in 1923) and (Rufus LaMaire's Affairs in 1927). She was in the very successful musical comedy Kids Boots from 1923 to 1925. In this image made in 1920,

Portrait of Beth Beri

Beth Beri was a dancer who appeared in two musical revues, "Jack and Jill" (1923) and "Rufus LaMaire's Affairs" (1927). Between those gigs, she played in the musical comedy "Kid Boots" (1923) which was successful enough to be produced in print and on Broadway. She is depicted here in humble costume wearing cut-off overalls, an oversized button-up shirt, and a sun hat. Her feet are postured coyly, shifting her weight away from the object of her attention. Yet as she peers out of the corner of her eyes and prepares to take a bite of fruit, she comes off as playful and seductive.

Portrait of Beth Beri in Dance

Dance Beth Beri never found success equal to that of fellow dancers such as Ann Pennington, but she did achieve notoriety through the 1920s for appearing in musical revues such as Jack and Jill and The Florenz Ziegfeld production Kid Boots. In this image, she stands barefoot against a wall with her right foot En Pointe and her left leg tucked up under a semi sheer ballet tutu. She completes her look with an embellished bralette She faces to her right and holds crosses her arms at the wrist and holds Tibetan tingsha bells at the ready.

Portrait of Beth Beri in Motion

Beth Beri was a dancer who appeared in two musical revues (Jack and Jill in 1923) and (Rufus LaMaire's Affairs in 1927). She was in the very successful musical comedy Kids Boots from 1923 to 1925. In this image made in 1920, her striking figure is posed in a composite stance. While her face remains mostly in shadow, her body is highlighted by an intricately designed oriental rug hung on the wall. A ginger jar placed by her right foot gleams in the light. She stands with her left foot on tippy-toe behind her right foot and parallel to her right arm.

Portrait of Beth Beri with Smokey Vase

Beth Beri was a dancer who appeared in two musical revues, "Jack and Jill" (1923) and "Rufus LaMaire's Affairs" (1927). Between those gigs, she performed in the musical comedy "Kid Boots" (1923) which was successful enough to be produced in print and on Broadway. In this portrait Beri is positioned kneeling towards an open vase that appears to have smoke rising from its opening. Beri is attired in an off shoulder full length dark dress with pattern top and diaphanous skirt.

Portrait of Beverly Bayne

Beverly Bayne walked into Chicago’s Essanay Studios when she was 16 years old and immediately turned heads with her big brown eyes and soft, dark hair. She became a pioneering silent film star of the 1910s, forming a popular romantic duo with matinee idol Francis X. Bushman – most notably in 1916’s Romeo and Juliet. Their onscreen chemistry was real. The couple married in 1918, but it begot scandal as Bushman had been divorced from his previous wife for only three weeks.

Portrait of Bobbie Tremaine

Like Ruth St. Denis, Bothwell Browne, and many other performers of the era, dancer and songwriter Bobbie Tremaine used exotic costumes and dances associated with foreign cultures to heighten her appeal to American audiences. In 1921, Tremaine wrote a serialized story entitled "Confessions of a Dancer," a greatly romanticized tale chronicling her encounters with Eastern cultures. A portion of the story appeared in Physical Culture Magazine alongside photographs of Tremaine in what were termed "Hindoo" dance poses.

Portrait of Bothwell Browne

Though cross-dressing vaudevillians were fairly common in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, dancer Bothwell Browne (1877-1947) broke from a tradition of broadly humorous bawdy or vulgar impersonations in favor of work that explored a more nuanced view of gender. Famous for playing characters such as Cleopatra, Browne often drew from an Eastern tradition he imagined as sensual and feminine. Browne is not dressed in women's clothing in Orval Hixon's portrait, but his sinuous pose and draped costume certainly challenged conventions of American masculinity.

Portrait of Charles "Buddy" Rogers

Charles "Buddy" Rogers was born in Olathe, Kansas. He was a student at the University of Kansas with plans to become a band leader. While his dream of becoming a band leader did not come to fruition, he became a performer nonetheless. Rogers moved to Hollywood and became an actor. He performed in more than 40 films including the World War I silent film, "Wings", winner of the first best-picture Oscar in 1929. The talented musician performed with his own jazz band in some films.

Portrait of Chic Sale in a Woman's Dress

Usually, rube comics were favored by rural audiences who liked their entertainers down to earth. In Chic’s case, you couldn’t get more down to earth than the outhouses that figured in his storytelling. Despite a preference for sophisticated monologists, Broadway audiences took to two of the cracker barrel types, including Will Rogers and Chic Sale. Sale portrayed a village full of hayseed characters in his storytelling of which “Grandpa” was the most successful. He also wrote a best selling book of outhouse humor called “The Specialist” which is still in print after 80 years.

Portrait of Chic Sale with Gloves

Usually, rube comics were favored by rural audiences who liked their entertainers down to earth. In Chic’s case, you couldn’t get more down to earth than the outhouses that figured in his storytelling. Despite a preference for sophisticated monologists, Broadway audiences took to two of the cracker barrel types, including Will Rogers and Chic Sale. Sale portrayed a village full of hayseed characters in his storytelling of which “Grandpa” was the most successful. He also wrote a best selling book of outhouse humor called “The Specialist” which is still in print after 80 years.

Portrait of Chief All O'Fire (i)

This is a portrait of a circus and vaudevillian performer who went by the name of Chief All O'Fire. It is speculated that he was actually Deaf Bull, a Crow chief active in the 1880s. Deaf Bull's screen name, Good Eye, was attributed to the one good eye he still had after a military prison guard hit him in the other eye with the back end of a rifle. Here he crouches in an action pose with a marked bow and arrow ready. He is wrapped up to the chest in a wool blanket and is adorned with large non-traditional necklaces, a scarf and brooch, and wide silver cuff around his arm.

Portrait of Chief All O'Fire (ii)

This is a portrait of a circus and vaudevillian performer who went by the name of Chief All O'Fire. It is speculated that he was actually Deaf Bull, a Crow chief active in the 1880s. Deaf Bull's sub name, Good Eye, was attributed to the one good eye he still had after a military prison guard hit him in the other eye with the back end of a rifle. Here he crouches in an action pose with a marked bow and arrow ready. He is wrapped up to the chest in a wool blanket and is adorned with large non-traditional necklaces, a scarf and brooch, and wide silver cuff around his arm.

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