Queen of Vaudeville: The Story of Eva Tanguay

Queen of Vaudeville: The Story of Eva Tanguay

Book rating: 05 Hardback

By (author) Andrew L. Erdman

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  • Publisher: Cornell University Press
  • Format: Hardback | 320 pages
  • Dimensions: 152mm x 236mm x 30mm | 794g
  • Publication date: 11 September 2012
  • Publication City/Country: Ithaca
  • ISBN 10: 0801449707
  • ISBN 13: 9780801449703
  • Edition statement: New.
  • Illustrations note: 19, 19 black & white halftones
  • Sales rank: 1,158,997

Product description

In her day, Eva Tanguay (1879 1947) was one of the most famous women in America. Widely known as the "I Don't Care Girl" named after a song she popularized and her independent, even brazen persona Tanguay established herself as a vaudeville and musical comedy star in 1901 with the New York City premiere of the show My Lady and never looked back. Tanguay was, at the height of a long career that stretched until the early 1930s, a trend-setting performer who embodied the emerging ideal of the bold and sexual female entertainer. Whether suggestively singing songs with titles like "It's All Been Done Before But Not the Way I Do It" and "Go As Far As You Like" or wearing a daring dress made of pennies, she was a precursor to subsequent generations of performers, from Mae West to Madonna and Lady Gaga, who have been both idolized and condemned for simultaneously displaying and playing with blatant displays of female sexuality.In Queen of Vaudeville, Andrew L. Erdman tells Eva Tanguay's remarkable life story with verve. Born into the family of a country doctor in rural Quebec and raised in a New England mill town, Tanguay found a home on the vaudeville stage. Erdman follows the course of her life as she amasses fame and wealth, marries (and divorces) twice, engages in affairs closely followed in the press, declares herself a Christian Scientist, becomes one of the first celebrities to get plastic surgery, loses her fortune following the Wall Street Crash of 1929, and receives her last notice, an obituary in Variety. The arc of Tanguay's career follows the history of American popular culture in the first half of the twentieth century. Tanguay's appeal, so dependent on her physical presence and personal charisma, did not come across in the new media of radio and motion pictures. With nineteen rare or previously unpublished images, Queen of Vaudeville is a dynamic portrait of a dazzling and unjustly forgotten show business star."

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Customer reviews


Before Lady Gaga, before Madonna, even before Mae West, there was Eva Tanguay. Eva who??? The once Queen of Vaudeville, the biggest star of early-twentieth century America, is now largely forgotten. Until now, no biography had ever been written about her. With the exception of a highly-fictionalized movie made in the 1940s, Hollywood has forgotten her as well. Andrew Erdman discovered old newspaper clippings about Eva while researching his doctoral dissertation. Unlike many early stars, Eva left little documentation of her life and no memoirs. This biography required a decade of intensive research on the part of the author, and his effort shows. This is a fascinating story of an entertainer ahead of her time.

5 stars

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher through the NetGalley book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission's 16 CFR, Part 255 : "Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising."

Review quote

"This biography is a thorough and important sequel to Andrew L. Erdman's Blue Vaudeville. It is both a skillful rendering of the life of Eva Tanguay and an incisive look at many of the key players whose lives intersected with Tanguay's during the rise of vaudeville. Erdman s storytelling weaves in the historical grounding and context so valuable in a biography; I came away with a strong sense of Tanguay the person, including her quirks of impulse and her questionable choices in business and male associates. Queen of Vaudeville is a must-read for anyone interested in the history of the entertainment industry." Kathleen M. Golden, Edinboro University, writer and director of Three Vaudeville Women: May Irwin, Marie Dressler, and Eva Tanguay"