Sunday, August 2, 2009

Lotta Faust

Lotta Faust - surely that's not her real name! - was born in 1880 in Brooklyn, New York. She entered theatre at the age of 16, joining Denman Thompson's production of The Sunshine of Paradise Alley in 1896.

Her greatest fame came in 1904, in the role of Trixie Tryfle in the Broadway musical version of The Wizard of Oz. Her song "Sammy" was the biggest hit of the show, and like most of that production's libretto, it had little or not connection to the plot. Faust would break the Fourth Wall for the song, and pitch the love song directly to some (usually married) man in the audience each night, which was always good for laughs at the man's expense.

Her second biggest claim to fame was her scandalous scantily-clad Salome dance routine. According to Wikipedia:

During an interview she admitted to being unaware of the Biblical story of Salome. Her rendition of the Salome dance came from what she was told regarding the Wilde play. She said she felt as if she really were the 14-year-old Salome while she was dancing on stage. She experienced both the horror and fascination during her performances. For each appearance Faust danced as if she would never be able to repeat what she was doing. There were a number of other women who presented their versions of the Salome dance in the same era as Faust. Among these were Eva Tanguay, Vera Olcott, and Gertrude Hoffman.

Lotta died of pneumonia and complications following a surgery in January 1910, at a sanitarium on 33 East 33rd Street in New York City.

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