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October 25, 2007

Actress Menken

Actress Menken: folks, if you're doing the New York Times crossword and you're getting stuck on the answer for "Actress Menken" then the answer is "Adah Isaacs" Menken, the first Jewish American superstar.

More on Menken here:

Today, celebrities such as Madonna, Wilt Chamberlain           and Warren Beatty are as well known for their defiance of conventional           values and the notoriety that surrounds their personal lives as they           are for their professional accomplishments. It was more than a century           ago that Adah Isaacs Menken, the first American Jewish "superstar,"           helped pioneer the art of cultivating an outsized, even outrageous,           personality as a path to fame and fortune. Even fame, however, could           not guarantee her happiness.        

In the 1860’s, Menken earned world fame in an equestrian melodrama,           "Mazeppa." She daringly appeared on stage playing the role           of a man, wearing nothing but a flesh-colored body stocking, riding           a horse on a ramp that extended into the audience. Menken’s costume           scandalized "respectable" critics—even as it attracted           huge and enthusiastic audiences that included such notables as Walt           Whitman and the great Shakespearean actor, Edwin Booth.

October 25, 2007 in History | Permalink

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