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Belle Epoque Postcards ~ Artists ~ Gaby Deslys

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Gaby Deslys
(Marie-Élise Gabrielle Caire)

* November 4th 1881, Marseille (France)
† February 11th 1920, Montrouge (France)

Gaby Deslys was a very famous and successful actress and dancer of the Belle Epoque. Her artist name derives from an abbreviation of "Gabrielle des Lys" ("Gabrielle of the Lillies"), which she got due to an embroidery job. At the age of 16 she took the chance to go to Paris as a chorus girl at the Parisienne and later at the Folies Bergere. Her charming appearance and her determined search for new engagements and better roles made her increasingly popular. In 1905 she had her first appearance in London, and 1911 in New York at the Winter Garden Theatre. There she met her congenial partner for the future, on and off stage, the American dancer and actor Harry Pilcer. Since then she was successfully performing on stages in America and Europe together with Harry Pilcer. They acted for several Broadway musicals and a dance called "The Gaby-Glide" was created for Deslys and Pilcer for the play "Vera Violetta". Before World War I, Deslys and Pilcer were the dream team of the Paris Music Halls, and they were like a role model for Mistinguett and Maurice Chevalier in the 1920s.
Deslys and Pilcer together also acted in a movie called "Her Triumph" in 1915. It was assumed that they were married, but there is no real proof for this information.

In 1910 she was entangled in an affair with King Manuel II. from Portugal, which caused quite a rumor in society. This may have contributed to the deposition of the king in 1910.

At some time there was also discussion about her identity, because a woman from Hungary, Hedwig Navratil, claimed to be the real Gaby Deslys. After her death this turned out to be wrong.

Gaby Deslys was famous for her love for expensive jewelry. Her portraits by various photographers show her always with gorgeous dresses and hats. Some of her costumes and dresses got designed by the famous artist Erte. Her smart sense for the business and numerous generous friends and admirers made her a wealthy woman.

Unfortunately Gaby Deslys died at a young age due to complications of an influenza infection. She is buried at Saint Pierre cemetery in Marseille.

 

References:

 

Gaby Deslys

 

 

The Gaby Glide

The Gaby Glide Song

for the Winter Garden Theatre play
"Vera Violetta" in New York, 1911

Music by Louis A. Hirsch
Words by Harry Pilcer

 

Bibliography:

Gaby Deslys

Stebbing Paris 1537 - Gaby Deslys

Gaby Deslys

Stebbing Paris 1537 - Gaby Deslys

Gaby Deslys

Stebbing Paris 1537 - Gaby Deslys

Gaby Deslys

Stebbing Paris 1537 - Gaby Deslys

Gaby Deslys

Stebbing Paris 1537 - Gaby Deslys

Gaby Deslys

Stebbing Paris - Gaby Deslys

Gaby Deslys

Stebbing Paris - Gaby Deslys

Gaby Deslys

Stebbing Paris - Gaby Deslys

Gaby Deslys

Stebbing Paris - 319 - Gaby Deslys

Gaby Deslys

Stebbing, Paris - Gaby Deslys

Gaby Deslys

Venus (Stebbing?) - Gaby Deslys (mistyping of her name)

Gaby Deslys

Stebbing, Paris - Gaby Deslys

Gaby Deslys

Walery Paris (number covered?) - Gaby Deslys

Gaby Deslys

Walery Paris (number covered?) - Gaby Deslys

Gaby Deslys

Raphael Tuck & Sons - T 748 - Gaby Deslys

Gaby Deslys

Davidson Brothers - Series 2284 - Gaby Deslys

Gaby Deslys

Rotary Photo 4351 G - Gaby Deslys

Gaby Deslys

EAS 0293/2 Phot. Talbot Paris - Gaby Deslys

Gaby Deslys

Eclipse - Gaby Deslys

Gaby Deslys & Harry Pilcer

Otto Sarony Co., New York - Gaby Deslys & Harry Pilcer
(actually not a postcard, but a gorgeous photo-print)

 

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