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The curtain rises and authors JoAnn Chartier and Chris Enss shine the spotlight on 14 entertaining women who sang, danced, acted in plays, performed equestrienne feats, and captured the hearts of the miners and homesteaders of the Frontier West. These "gilded girls" who performed in the mining boomtowns were literally showered with gold, but oftentimes their personal lives were marked by unhappiness. Still, their very presence on stage enchanted avid western audiences, and they were rewarded with flowery reviews and sensational editorials by local newspapers, as well as riches. Their every action was commented upon, but rarely did reporters know the whole story. Chartier and Enss now reveal what many people of the times never knew about these sometimes rowdy, sometimes refined female celebrities by providing a unique inside look at their lives via this collection of intriguing biographies.
About the Author
JoAnn Chartier is an artist and writer living in California's historic Gold Rush Country. She has worked as both a print and broadcast journalist and as a talk show host, devoting many programs to historical themes.
Chris Enss is a standup comic and comedy writer with an extensive background in radio and television. Her educational background includes studies in journalism and cinematography. Her hobbies are historical research and writing about the Old West. She lives in Grass Valley, California.
JoAnn and Chris are also the authors of With Great Hope: Women of the California Gold Rush and Love Untamed: Romances of the Old West.
Read an Excerpt
From Kate Rockwell, "Flame of the Yukon"
A frigid wind blew hard past the weather-beaten exterior of the Palace Garden Theatre in Dawson City, Alaska. It was the spring of 1900 and gleeful patrons were tucked warmly inside, waiting for the "Flame of the Yukon" to take the stage.
A feisty red-headed beauty glided out before the crowd, her violet eyes smiling. The men went wild with applause. The music began and the entertainer swayed with the beat, placing a gloved hand to her breast and a fingertip to her lips, and then stretching her arm out, beckoning her admirers. The elaborate red sequin dress she was wearing was form-fitting, and the long black cape that draped over her shoulders clung to her alabaster skin.
The piano player accelerated his playing, and Kate gyrated gracefully in and out of the shadows made by the colored lights flicking across the stage. With a slight movement of her hand, she dropped the cape off her shoulders and it fell to the floor. The glittering diamonds and rhinestones around her neck sparkled and shined. Ever so seductively she picked up a nearby cane adorned with more than two hundred yards of red chiffon and began leaping while twirling the fabric-covered walking stick. Around and around she fluttered, the chiffon trailing wildly about her like flames from a fire, the material finally settling over her outstretched body. The audience erupted in a thunderous ovation. She was showered with nuggets and small pouches filled with gold dust. This dance would make her famous.
Table of Contents
(1) Acknowledgments (2) Introduction (3) Maude Adams-The Most Popular Actress in America (4) Mary Anderson-Self-made Star (5) Sarah Bernhardt-The Divine Sarah (6) Mrs. Leslie Carter-Passionate Player (7) Caroline Chapman-Shakespeare to Slapstick (8) Catherine Hayes-The Irish Prima Donna (9) Matilda Heron-Star of the American Theater (10) Lily Langtry-The Jersey Lily (11) Adah Menken-The Frenzy of Frisco (12) Helena Modjeska-Polish Phenomenon (13) Lucille Mullhall-Cowgirl (14) Kate Rockwell-Flame of the Yukon (15) Lillian Russell-America's Beauty (16) Sarah Kirby Stark-Pioneer Manager