Orval Hixon

Portrait of Evelyn Nesbit Thaw

Evelyn Nesbit Thaw was an artist model, a chorus girl, and an actress. As a model, she posed for notable artists such as James Carroll Beckwith and Frederick S. Church. She was also on the cover of many popular magazines in the early twentieth century which made her face highly circulated and recognized. She moved on to theater with her first gig as a chorus line singer for the Broadway show "Florodora" (1899). She then landed a role as Vashti in "A Wild Rose" (1902) for which she received a great deal of press attention as the next up and coming star.

Portrait of Figure Study with Vase

This photograph is one of Hixon's many figure studies with an unknown woman. It offers a side view of her figure draped in black material. She looks up slightly at the camera from over a lowered shoulder while holding a globular ceramic vase. A light positioned below the figure emphasizes the curvature of her figure while also highlighting the curvature of the vase.

Portrait of Flo Lewis

Flo Lewis was a vaudeville entertainer. She is recognizable by her crystalline eyes and long eyelashes. In this three-quarter view photograph, a paisley patterned fabric wraps her figure while a satin sheet drapes over her arms. She holds out a vase with a few thin limbs of foliage coming out of it. The vase appears to be a material extension of the satin fabric as their color, texture, and reflectivity are nearly identical. Although she holds out the vase as an offering, her eyes mesmerize with their gaze.

Portrait of Florence O'Denishawn

There is some uncertainty about how California-born Florence Andrews (1887-1991) became Florence O'Denishawn, but most attribute her name change to a misprint of "Florence of Denishawn," the renowned dance school. The name stuck even as O'Denishawn moved on to shows like the Ziegfeld Follies, and wherever she appeared, she helped ensure the legacy of her original teachers. In this image, the curtain offsets the mystery and allure of the scantily-clad O'Denishawn while also framing the scene as a stage performance.

Portrait of Florence O'Denishawn in Dance

Garbed in a classical ballerina tutu replete with petite swan wings, Florence O'Denishawn poses demurely against the wall with her crossed arms raised as if in a self-embrace. Her right hand is gently poised on her left shoulder. She stands En Pointe in satin ballerina slippers with her left foot ever so slightly positioned behind her right root. With her head tilted back and her chin pointed over her left shoulder, she demurely holds the viewer in her gaze. O'Denishawn is a composite of elegance and child-like playfulness captured in a moment of coy repose.

Portrait of George Arliss

George Augustus Andrews was born in London. Known professionally as George Arliss, he began his stage career at the age of 18 and then came to the United States in his mid-30s where he appeared in numerous Broadway productions and films. He successfully made the conversion from theater to silent film and then from silent film to talkies, becoming the first British winner of an Academy Award for best actor in "Disraeli" (1929). Arliss' wife, actress Florence Montgomery, appeared in several films with him although when she lost her sight in 1937 he retired from the screen.

Portrait of George Beban, Sr.

George Beban was born in California in the year 1873. Beban was an actor, writer, director, producer, and editor of over thirty films through 1910 to the 1920s. Beban had been a minstrel performer with the legendary team of Weber & Fields. Beban personal success was achieved producing and co-writing the play "The Sign Of The Rose" in 1911. He recreated this role for Thomas Ince in 1915 in a silent film renamed "The Alien". It was done as a multi-media event with Beban live on stage interacting with the screen presentation.

Portrait of George White

George White was variously skilled as a producer, director, author, dancer, and actor. He began dancing at a young age for a burlesque dancing team. He later performed in shows such as the "Ziegfeld Follies" and "The Pleasure Seekers", amongst others. In 1919, he produced and directed a series called "George White's Scandals" which matched popular music of the time with fast-moving sketches and glamorous women. In this traditional portrait, White wears a suit jacket and tie with his hair oiled back.

Portrait of Grace La Rue

Grace La Rue was an American actress, singer, and vaudeville headliner. La Rue was born in Kansas City, Missouri in 1882 to Mrs. Lucy L. Parsons. Parsons adopted the stage name of La Rue finding it a little more exotic than the family name. She began her career as part of the team Burke and La Rue with her first husband Charles Burke. One of their numbers was a minstrel piece entitled "Grace La Rue and her Inky Dinks." She soon broke away from the act - and Burke - to appear in musical comedy. In this photograph, she wears a tasseled dress and a satin pillbox hat.

Portrait of Grace La Rue with Patterned Wall

Grace La Rue was an American actress, singer, and vaudeville headliner. Grace La Rue was born in Kansas City, Missouri in 1882 to Mrs. Lucy L. Parsons. La Rue was a stage name as it was more exotic sounding than her original surname of Parsons. She began her career as part of the team Burke and La Rue with her first husband Charles Burke. One of their numbers was a minstrel piece entitled "Grace La Rue and her Inky Dinks." She soon broke away from the act, and Burke, to appear in musical comedy.

Portrait of Gus Edwards with Carnation

Gus Edwards was a songwriter and vaudevillian. Over the course of his career, he wrote and produced numerous vaudevillian classics and later established his own company through which many notable stars such as Eddie Cantor and Ina Ray Hutton gained fame. His success as a music producer led him to start the Gus Edwards Music Hall in New York where he collaborated with figures like William Cobb to produce major Broadway numbers. He was inducted into the Songwriters Hall of Fame in 1970. He looks assuredly at the camera in this portrait while resting his elbow comfortably on a surface.

Portrait of Guy Bates

Guy Bates' acting career spanned over more than fifty years with a multitude of Broadway stage and Hollywood film productions. Some of his most memorable roles include Omar Khayyám in the 1914 stage and 1922 film productions of "Omar the Tentmaker" and Louis Napoleon in "Maytime" ( 1937) and again in "The Mad Empress" (1939). His fourth and final marriage was to British character actress Lillian Kemble-Cooper.

Portrait of Hazel Flint

Born in New York in 1893, Hazel Flint later became a silent film actress of the 1920s, starring in films like Modern Daughters (1927) and The Bootleggers (1922). Not much is known about her role in these films or the films themselves, likely because they are considered "lost films" meaning they are believed to no longer exist in any archives or private collections. This was common for American silent films of the early 20th century as copyright deposits were not yet required by the Library of Congress.

Portrait of Herbert Clifton

Herbert Clifton, born in London, England, was and actor noted for his female impersonations. Clifton was publicized as “The Male Soprano” and advertised as having a voice worth one thousand pounds. Clifton traveled to America appearing at the Alhambra Theater in New York in 1910. He portrayed a street urchin and sang "Love Me and the World is Mine", "The Holy City", and "Stop Your Tickling, Jock". Clifton became a sensation with American audiences and after a brief sojourn back to England, he returned to the United States for his second Vaudeville tour.

Portrait of Herbert Kinney

This solitary moment captured by Orval Hixon commemorates the Herbert Kinney and Corrine Kalich pantomime and dance act. Kinney sits on a low bench with one leg up and one leg on the floor. He is wearing a short dark tunic belted at the waist and accentuated by a tuille ruff. His brocade knee-length britches are offset by tights and dark slippers. His hair slicked-back hair accentuates makeup typically worn by pantomimes. He sits close to the wall and facing a poster of an illustration of a woman with an art-deco hairstyle. Under the depiction, is the name Kalich.

Portrait of Hixon's Sister with Friends, Little Blue River

This photograph captures a moment where Hixon's sister and a few of her friends are seated on a small boat on the Little Blue River in Indiana. Some of the women smile for the photograph, others appear serious, relaxed, and earnest. They are all clothed in skirts and dresses in a fashion popular for women at the time. Their sun hats and tousled hair indicate it might have been warm and perhaps humid on the river that day.

Portrait of Ina Alcova Leaping

Ina Alcova was a Vaudeville ballet dancer known as "The Flying Alcova." Rather than the usual vertical portrait, Hixon has created a horizontal portrait of Ina flying through a whimsical landscape. She leaps into the light from the dark through the center of the composition. A bright ray of light shines downward upon her head. The pattern of her skirt echoes the "brushstrokes" of the background.

Portrait of Ina Hayward

As a child actor, Ina Hayward had theatrical debut’s performing in roles such as "Peck Bad Boys" and "Sidewalks of New York." Hayward soon gravitated to variety acts, using her talents as an equestrian, singer and dancer. Hayward performed at the Gayety Theater as it was burgeoning into a house of burlesque. Hayward had resurgence in her theatrical career, appearing in the "Passing Show," "Billie" and "Manhattan Mary." When not on the musical theater circuit, Hayward toured Vaudeville as a singer backed by the Misha Boys, a string and percussion band.

Portrait of Irene Rich

The portrait depicted here is of Irene Rich. Rich was a successful San Francisco real estate agent who received her first movie job as an extra in Mary Pickford’s "Stella Maris" in 1918. She graduated to starring roles in silent melodramas. Rich eventually made the transition to talkies, joining Will Rogers in a series of pictures. She appeared in 21 Warner Bros. movies including "The Champ" in 1931 and John Ford’s "Fort Apache" in 1948. Her career totaled more than 100 screen credits.

Portrait of Jack Laughlin

Jack Laughlin was an actor, director, producer, and stage manager during the vaudeville era. He played in an ensemble in the Broadway musical "Sinbad" (1918) which featured the famed vaudevillian actor Al Jolson. This head and shoulders portrait captures Laughlin's profile as he looks off and into a light which illuminates him against an opaque background. He wears a relaxed white linen shirt and his haircut is precise. He appears pensive in expression and pose as he leans slightly forward, resting his elbows on a surface before him.

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