Friday, July 24, 2015

Nattova info bonanza!

     Today, I received an email from Gary Chapman of Jazz Age Club:
Dear Roy,  
   I've finally uploaded my post on Natacha Nattova
   I've given your blog a plug at the end I hope you will find it of interest given your interest in her
   I've had it on my enormous list for over a decade
   I write about performers / dancers in the Jazz Age amongst many other things relating to the 1920s 
with best wishes  
     His post is wonderful:

The Fiery Natacha Nattova (Jazz Age Club [Gary Chapman])
The Fiery Natacha Nattova Natacha Nattova came from the Paris Opera via Nice and war torn Russia to become one of Europe and America’s most daring and graceful adagio dancers during the Jazz Age.


real name Nathalie Schmit
By 1940 she was still living with Daks at West 53rd Street, New York. He was then an assistant theatre producer and Nattova had seemingly ended her career as a dancer. 

See Nattova moves to California re Nathalie Schmit. 

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

From the Art of Partnering (and Desha photos)

Divina & Charles

From Pas de Deux: The Art of Partnering, By Anton Dolin

By JENNIFER DUNNING Published: February 6, 1981
…Such spectacular acts as Natova and Myrio, Horam and Myrtil, and Divina and Charles crisscrossed the United States and Europe in the 1920's stunning audiences with their daring lifts and catches. Thirty years later, the Bolshoi Ballet followed, introducing superb feats of athleticism that changed the nature of Western ballet partnering….
     Some of Desha's modeling work (text below also from Figure Drawing):

Most of these photos by Harriet Frishmuth

Photographer Nicholas Muray

Noted from George Eastman House Photography Collection:

Desha Delteil, dancer American (born Yugoslavia ca 1890s -d. 1980)
     Desha Delteil was a student of Michel Fokine and first dancer in his company. Together with Jean Myrio and Barte, her dance interpretation of George Gershwin's Rhapsody in Blue at the Kit Kat Cabaret in London has been recorded in a Pathe motion picture review. Also known for her bubble dance. Married Mario Delteil. Desha was paid to pose in 1916 for sculptor Harriet Whitney Frishmuth (American 1880-1979) who completed a bronze sculpture titled Desha in 1927. Desha was also the model for Frishmuth's Roses of Yesterday copyrighted in 1923. The prices4art database describes the relationship as follows: "In 1916, Frishmuth hired the Yugoslavian ballet dancer Desha Delteil to model, first for Frishmuth's studio art classes and then for her own work. Frishmuth preferred to use dancers rather than models for her work because of their flexibility and strength which was necessary for holding poses for long periods of time."

Auction noted from the Maine Antique Digest:

     There was also a record price paid for a work by sculptor Harriet Whitney Frishmuth. Roses of Yesterday, a 65" tall bronze cast by Gorham, sold for $632,000 (est. $300,000/ 500,000). The catalog noted that Frishmuth wrote that it was her "best sundial, originally designed in 1923 as a memorial to Mr. Walden, great lover of children and flowers, the gnomon on the dial is a butterfly symbolizing the fleeting hours." It is one of an edition of five or six. The previous record for Frishmuth was $580,000 for a probably unique bronze figure of a woman, Bubble Dance, 90" tall, also cast by Gorham, that sold at Sotheby's in May 1999.
 . . .
     Notes from

     In 1916, Desha was hired to pose for sculptor Harriet Whitney Frishmuth and modeled for several of Frishmth's female bronzes, one of which Frishmuth entitled "Desha". She became Frishmuth's favorite model, posing not only for a number of her best pieces but also for her studio art classes. She is known to have posed for "The Vine" and "Roses of Yesterday", and is presumed to have posed for "The Hunt" based on similarities of form and figure. Delteil modeled for other artists as well, being highly valued for her ability to hold difficult poses for extended periods.

Movies she was in from

Clip from Glorifying the American Girl on might be Desha Delteil with the bubble at the very end.

About photographer Nicholas Murray:
     According to multitude of trustworthy sources, Muray enjoyed a reputation of being irresistible to women. His first wife was the beautiful Hungarian literary figure Ilona Fulop, who also served as editor of the Hungarian Miners' Journal. Marital problems soon led to divorce. Not long afterward he fell in love with Czech ballerina Desha Gorska [the same]. When she rejected his marriage proposal, he found consolation in the arms of her sister Leja and they were married in 1921. Of their union was born a daughter - Arija - on August 11, 1922, followed by an amicable divorce.

Evidently, Jean Myrio danced with a woman named Nasidika in the early 20s.

British Variety? Dec. 3, 1920. Was her given name Tsune-Ko ? 

"You got to kill yourself"

     "To make a living at [an adagio act], you got to kill yourself," said the agent.
     This clip is from the December 1, 1934 New Yorker, in the "Talk of the Town" column. The writer explains the miserable fate of "adagio" acts by that time. Our girl Natacha came to our shores (late '26) with an adagio act and continued with that kind of act at least up through 1935.
     Two weeks earlier than the above article, the Tuttle/Daks brouhaha had been reported elsewhere—not in the New Yorker, it seems. At any rate, I can't find anything in their archive about it.
     Here's a fragment of a piece in the June 24, 1933 New Yorker, part of someone's opinery re the show at the Riviera:

     You'll recall that Nattova danced (with Myrio) at Harry Richman's place, but that was in the late 20s, I think.
     It is unlikely, I think, that the female adagio dancer mentioned here (in the "Tables for Two" column) was Nattaova. 
     Nattova, too, was dropped once or twice.

Thursday, November 20, 2014

From the Daily Iowan, 1929
The Tech, Friday, December 4, 1925
Including "Hank the Mule"

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Myrio and Desha, Nattova and Rodion, 1928

Found in Illustrierte Magazine; Scherl's Magazin, 4.1928, H.10, Oktober 
    Nattova and "Myrio" partnered for years in Britain before crossing the pond in late 1925 for a gig in the Greenwich Village Follies in New York (starting in December). But at the end of that run, the duo broke up and Nattova was compelled to find another partner. Myrio's replacement, it seems, was G Rodion. Illustrierte Magazin has a photo of that duo as well, also from 1928:

Found in Illustrierte Magazin. Scherl's Magazin, 4.1928, H.2, Februar

Myrio, Desha, and Barte in London, 1931
Two excerpts from an earlier post:

1. Who was G. Rodion? Natacha's partner c. 1927-8 Records found on
     -- Gritzanov Rodion (naturalization) Russian Pol Age 32 Feb 4 1929 Manger Hotel Unmarried
     -- April 17, 1928 Petition for Naturalization Gritzanov Rodion ALSO Rodion Gritzanov Has resided in New York since Jan. 1, 1914 Dancer and Actor, Manger Hotel B. Oct 22, 1896 New Macshanitza, Russia Renounces citizenship, Russia, Poland Witnesses: Suzanne Barse, dancer; Martha Arnold, dancer
     -- Radion Gritzanov b. Oct 22, 1896 d. April 1968 ss 125-09-1924 10024 New York, New York, New York, USA

2. Who was Jean Myrio? I've done further looking and have found that, in Britain, Natacha Nattavo (two t's) had a male dance parter, Jean Myrio, and, together, they were called "Myrio and Natacha" or "Natacha and Myrio." The partnership seems to have existed on both sides of the Atlantic, for I've found records of the two in Britain up through September, 1925, but then in the New York area in 1926. By late 1927, however, she was dancing with G. Rodion and Harry Glick. She fired (or had fired) the latter, who sued but lost the suit (see elsewhere). (She explained that Glick was not strong enough to catch her or toss her around and that, besides, there was no need for a second man.)
     - It appears that Myrio's real name (but who knows what's real with this crowd) was Jean Henry [or Henri Jean] Raoul Delteil, a classically trained dancer (and Russian? French?), who later married a famous artist's model, known as Desha Delteil (1899-1980). The two formed their own dance duo and performed in Britain and France in the [1920s and] 1930s:
     - [Desha Deltiel] married Jean Henry Raoul Delteil, known as Jean Myrio, another classically trained dancer from [Michel] Fokine's company. In the 1930s she and Myrio performed at a number of nightclubs in Paris and London, and their dance interpretation of George Gershwin's Rhapsody in Blue at the Kit-Cat Club was recorded in a Pathé motion picture review. In 1939 they worked at the Casino de Paris together with Josephine Baker. Jean had a small house in the Dordogne where Maurice Chevalier, with friends Nita Raya and Josephine, were hidden from German invaders during World War II. After the war, Desha and her husband established the first classical dance school in the French town of Bergerac. A French source claims she died in 1980 and is buried in Bergerac. [This is a quotation. Citation?]
     - Myrio's mentor, Fokine, hailed from St. Petersburg and studied at the Vaganova Dance Academy. You'll recall that Nathalie Hoyer studied under Agrippina Vaganova and that she, too, hailed from St. Petersburg, as did our girl Natacha (Petrograd). Good grief.
     - Oddly (or?), our girl Natacha was also a famous model, having modeled for famous artists by (I believe) 1923 (Serge Yourievitch, Emile Arthur Soldi-Colbert). In fact, Natacha Natova (or Nattova) was voted as having the most beautiful figure of any "foreigner"--not sure when. About 1927? Photos of her during that period testify to her beauty.

This, of course, is a photo of Myrio and Nattova's act in London, c. 1925
     No doubt this kind of speculation is unfair, but here goes. It is easily imagined that tensions will crop up for any dancing duo (or trio, etc.) that gains fame. Typically, one person gets more attention than the other(s), justly or unjustly. It is easily imagined that such was the case for Myrio and Nattova (or Nattova and Myrio!) in their years together, starting (I believe) in London and ending in mid-1926 New York. There are indications (see previous posts) that Myrio was irked that Nattova got as much attention, or praise, as she did, drawing light from his own star, and that he sought another arrangement, including his top (or sole) billing with someone less annoyingly captivating. Perhaps these kinds of concerns explain the Nattova-Myrio breakup of 1926. 
     On the other hand, there are indications (again, it is easy to be unfair, working with such sketchy information) that Nattova was a difficult person and difficult to work with: her odd episode with Toots Pounds in London, the violent episode with her protégé (who declared that Nattova was "insane") two years later, the frequent litigation, the peculiar public threats to would-be plagiarists, etc. Perhaps Nattova's demanding and difficult ways grew as her fame grew and, by mid-1926, Myrio had had quite enough. And perhaps that happened with Daks, too. 
     Who knows. A very different (and more flattering) picture is also consistent with the facts as I know them. 
     For what it's worth, though Myrio might have insisted on top billing in the post-Nattova act, he eventually (and soon) commenced flourishing as part of a duo ("Myrio and Desha"), with double billing, with his wife, a real attention-grabber. That lasted for quite some time it seems. 
     Was our girl, Nattova, difficult? That is easily imagined. The evidence is strong but not overwhelming that she was. 
     We are compelled to ask: Why did Nattova's career decline as it did (if indeed it did, and it seemed to)? Had she burned too many bridges? Was it simply a case of the passing fancies of a fickle public? 
     Did she expect more from Daks than the journeyman-like career that he seemed to settle into in the 30s? Did she herself expect to maintain her "star" and then diminish amid the reality of her declining standing? Had she been, for a brief time, a kind of "it" girl—one whose stature depended on manipulation of the press/public or, alternatively, a perfect storm of accident and fortuity? That can be a difficult epoch to live through. Many do not survive it. And some, no doubt, cannot live happily, or at all, when it passes. And perhaps she was a truly outstanding artist whose fame and stature was in some simple sense deserved. But that, too, typically fades—I mean either the artistry or that art's relationship with an always foolish and mercurial public. 
     I cannot imagine Nattova's years, starting in the mid-30s, as anything but sad. It is possible, I suppose, that she sought only to make a living dancing for a motley and inconstant public. Perhaps her increasing distance from stardom, or goddesshood, was no burden for her. But I doubt it. 
     Evidently, by 1940, she lived with Daks in a New York apartment, putatively (or actually?) as his wife. A housewife. But the circumstances suggest that the situation was sadder still. Had she gone (back?) to Daks, not as wife, but only for a place to live, as his career and life marched on essentially without her, as, indeed, it seemed to? 
     But she did survive. Fifteen years later, she settled in Southern California, and she lived a good thirty years longer in the Golden State. How she fared in her obscure second act we'll likely never know. I do hope she fared well, or well enough.
From the New Yorker, Nov 19, 1927.
Evidently, Myrio had partnered with Desha and Barte
Desha Eva Podgoršek (Desha Delteil) Jean Henry Raoul Myrio  and [Leon] Barte, Kit-Cat Club, Oct 1928 (Desha was originally Serbian, came to US at age 12; was a well-known artists' model)

Monday, November 10, 2014

Post litigation flame-out

Did our girl's career decline in the mid-30s?
     So, what was goin' on in the months—the year—after Nattova's November 1934 litigation flame-out? Inquiring minds want to know.
     I scoured Variety from November 1934 to December 1935, and this is what I came up with.

Variety, Dec 4, 1934
     The litigation, of course, concerned a divorce that Nattova had pursued against her husband, Nicholas Daks. I noticed that, during this period, the Variety writers made a point of ribbing Mr. Daks about his muscular legs and his love of (or, anyway, being attired in), um, tight pants. Not sure what that's about. Was his profile raised by that messy business about adultery and such at the end of 1934? How was it perceived by the entertainment (or vaudevillian, or dancer) community? Was Nattova viewed as having attempted a shakedown of that dancer (the alleged adulteress) and her rich director husband?
     I could find nothing about Nattova and Daks from January through February, 1935.

     Ah, yes. Daks and his tight pants again.
     Curiously, in the same show (at the Music Hall, Daks' place of work), we find Nattova with (new?) partners Allen Noyes and Victor Ladd, again with "an adagio trio"—complete with the usual Natacha-tossing. 
     The 1940 census lists a “Victor Ladd,” age about 33 (b. 1907), living on West 56th Street with his wife, Ruth. Born in France (Nattova considered herself to be French), he indicates that he is an actor, as does his wife.
     I could find virtually nothing about Mr. Noyes. An "Allen Noyes" was born in New Hampshire in 1906. Is that our guy? Dunno. Was he related to the famous American dancer, Florence Fleming Noyes (1871-1928)? Dunno.

     Again with the tight pants. No sign of Nattova, though. Where's our girl? What's she doing? Has she gone back to France?

Variety, May 8, 1935
     Daks has an adagio act with Helen Leitch, who "wears only the tiniest bit of gold fringe."
     I need to find photos.

Variety, Sept 25, 1935
     Nattova reappears—this time at the Fox.
Variety, Sept 25, 1935
     Is this a step down for our Nattova? I think so.

Variety, Oct 2 1935
     Daks keeps busy—this time with Patricia Bowman.
     But what's become of our girl?
     Elsewhere, I found this:
Superb Floor Show Featuring Natacha Nattova and Hank the Mule Nightly
The Scranton RepublicanScranton, PennsylvaniaThursday, November 7, 1935 Page 3
Scranton Republican, Nov 7 1935
     The "Omar Room" in Scranton? That can't be good.
     I found nothing about Nattova in Variety for the whole year of 1936. (Daks got a few mentions; he seems to have maintained good standing in the dance community, increasingly as a assistant manager or assistant director, for a great many years.) I should mention that I could find nothing about Nattova (in Variety) in the first half of 1937 either (I looked no further). It is possible, of course, that she was active in France or elsewhere during some or all of this period. I seem less successful finding data about Nattova insofar as she was a resident or visitor of France.

Sunday, November 9, 2014

Nattova in London, 1925

Found this at CorbisImages. Likely Myrio & Nattova
at the Picadilly Hotel in London, c. 1925

1926: injuries, lost dogs, and "insanity"

Nattova, in Variety, late 1926

     JANUARY: GREENWICH VILLAGE FOLLIES. 1926 was quite a year for Nattova, full of ups and downs. She had only just arrived in the U.S.A. in November of '25. (She sailed the Aquitania to New York on Nov. 6, 1925—Nattova and Myrio's "sailing" to the USA had been noted by Variety on Nov. 4). She and her partner, Myrio, who had been together for years, were signed to perform in the Greenwich Village Follies (G.V.F.), starting in December of '25. (Run: Dec 24 1925 - May 29, 1926)
     As we'll see, she'd eventually be fired owing to her fiery temperament. And she'd lose Myrio as her partner too. It's not clear what caused that.
     Below, we find a description/review of that show, including Nattova & Myrio's efforts in it. She and her partner are "the dance sensation of the show." (The missing part of the article—starting at the bottom of the first column—is in the subsequent image below.) 

Variety, Jan 26, 1926 (a)
Missing part:
Variety, Jan 26, 1926 (b)
     We see that the show (G.V.F.) received a generally positive review here. Nattova and Myrio were standouts:
The dance sensation of the show came via Natache Nattova and Jean Myrio, French team, discovered by Morris Green. Acrobatic and agile, they aroused enthusiasm in both parts of the revue, first with “White Cargo.” The man drops the smallish Mlle. Nattova into the sea from a considerable height. A trampoline is used to break the fall. In the second act and near the close “The Moth and Flame” also ended with Mlle. Nattova accomplishing a drop, this time in full sight of the audience.
     Note Nattova's attraction to danger and action. As we'll see, that would have a price.
     As you'll see, Nattova's association with Mr. Jean Myrio—with whom she crossed the pond—was not to last. They seemed to have a falling out. Over what?

Here's a brief review from the January 2, 1926 New Yorker:

New Yorker, Jan 2 1926

Variety, March 17 1926
     Nattova would have many injuries in the coming years.

Variety, Aug 11 1926
     AUGUST. Wow. As we'll see, it is unlikely that Nattova's partners in this incident included Jean Myrio, for the two evidently broke up at the end of their initial GVF run. Probably, G. Rodion was among Nattova's partners at this point. Harry Glick was a partner let go at about this time. Was he the one who failed to catch her? (See.)

Variety, Sept 1 1926

     SEPTEMBER. A month later, and Nattova (or "Natova") is at the Albee in Brooklyn. What was her recovery like?

Variety, Inside Stuff (vaudeville), Sept 8 1926
     Renoff and Renova complained "anent" (i.e., about) Myrio and Co. "staircase idea." The matter seemed to be settled quickly.
     The writer notes that Nattova, Myrio's former partner, is working in vaudeville as well. The two "split" after the run of GVF.

Variety, New Acts This Week, Oct 6, 1926
     OCTOBER. A month later, and we encounter a further allusion to Myrio and Nattova's splitting, post GVF.
     The writer hints that Myrio was unhappy that Nattova got too much attention. Was that the cause of the Myrio/Nattova breakup? He has changed the spelling of his name from "Jean" to "Gene"—perhaps simply to draw attention to himself—and refuses to reveal the name of his beautiful new partner, a blond. She is not "billed." 
     The last paragraph is odd, and perhaps includes allusions to Nattova's recent fall and the Myrio/Nattova split-up:
This is a good flash-turn, and, as long as Myrio can hold the girl who "supports" him and runs off with the honors, can command time and attention in the best vaudeville and picture theatres.
Variety, Nov 3, 1926
     Yes, but will Nattova remain in the GV Follies? I know that, after the Myrio/Nattova split, still with GVF, Nattova partnered a while, first with two men, then with one, Mr. Rodion. (See.)

Variety, Nov 10, 1926
     NOVEMBER. Nattova, described here as the "dancer of the" GVF show, beat up her protege, an apparent overreaction to the loss of Nattova's dog, the Great Dane Droushka. (See.)
     Nattova was later arrested and provided a story about her protege/servant's having actually sold the dog. That was "refuted" when the dog turned up dead at the animal morgue.
     The protege declared that Nattova is "insane." The judge didn't want to hear about that part.
     Evidently, this story received a week's worth of airplay in the press.

Variety, Nov 10 1926
     ANNOUNCEMENT. Curiously, in the same edition of Variety, we find this full-page ad, by Nattova. She is "tired of imitation." She's about to unveil "a new extraordinary and original dance idea," owned by her and her alone.
     The ad notes that she is presently with GVF at the Appollo in Chicago. 
     But not for long.

Variety, Nov 24 1926
     NATTOVA LOSES GVF GIG. Well, the assault charge goes away when the complaint is withdrawn by Miss Carrol. But Nattova loses her GVF gig over the whole thing. A week earlier, in Chicago, she had been replaced by a dancer named Maslova.
Variety, Dec 1 1926

     DECEMBER. Very soon, she finds work at Harry Richman's nightclub where, soon (if not already?), she'll be working with a new partner, G. Rodion.


Variety, Nov 4, 1925

Variety, Dec 2 1925: Nattova & Myrio only mentioned