George Abbott (1887–1995)
George Abbott was a theater producer and director, film director, playwright, and screenwriter who influenced the performing arts for nearly all of the 20th century. His body of work includes writing and directing The Boys from Syracuse (1938), Where’s Charley? (1948), and Damn Yankees (1955). When Sheeler photographed Abbott for the March 1928 issue of Vanity Fair, Abbott had already written and directed a number of stage plays.
Theodore Dreiser (1871–1945)
Novelist Theodore Dreiser is best known today for his first novel Sister Carrie (1900), which explored the life of a young woman who flees country life for the city, where she struggles with poverty and prostitution—complex issues for the era. By 1926, when he sat for his portrait for Vanity Fair, Dreiser was experiencing his first financial success from the publication of An American Tragedy, which would shortly be adapted for Broadway, where it premiered at the Longacre Theatre on October 11, 1926. Sheeler made a number of work prints from that sitting, one of which was also published in 1933.
Aldous Huxley (1894–1963)
Aldous Leonard Huxley was a writer, novelist, screenwriter, philosopher, and prominent member of the Huxley family, most notably associated with Brave New World (1932), a satirical novel about the political, scientific, and social environment of the time. By the 1920s, Huxley was an established writer and had published a number of novels and contributed periodically to publications such as Vogue and Vanity Fair. Charles Sheeler photographed Huxley for the April 1927 issue of Vanity Fair.
Renée Adorée (1898–1933)
Renée Adorée was a French actress made famous for her performances during the silent film era. Renee started in the French vaudeville circuit and traveled throughout Europe and Australia. Her most notable performance was alongside John Gilbert in The Big Parade (1925), considered one of the most successful silent films of all time. Renée was photographed by Sheeler in the November 1926 issue of Vanity Fair.
Bobbe Arnst (1903–1980)
Bobbe Arnst was an actress, singer, and dancer who stole the spotlight in both stage and film throughout the 1920s and 1930s. Born in New York City as Leone Christoffersen, Bobbe began her career in show business at the young age of three and rose steeply to stardom. Her success crossed borders, acting in films, performing in musicals and nightclubs, and singing with the Ted Lewis Orchestra worldwide. Bobbe is perhaps best known for her role as Mary in Florenz Ziegfeld’s Rosalie where she performed the George & Ira Gershwin hit “How Long Has This Been Going On?” It was during this time that Charles Sheeler captured Bobbe’s spirit on film for the July 1928 issue of Vanity Fair.
Alice Brady (1892–1939)
Alice Brady (born Mary Rose Brady) grew up in an important stage and film family—her father, William A. Brady, was a theatrical producer who later moved to Hollywood to start the World Film Corporation. Alice joined him there in 1913 and went on to appear in seventy-five films before her early death from cancer. She was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress in 1936 for her role as Angelica Bullock in My Man Godfrey, and won the award the following year for her role in In Old Chicago. When Sheeler photographed Brady for the June 1926 issue of Vanity Fair, she was appearing on Broadway in Bride of the Lamb.
The Brox Sisters
Lorayne Brox (1901–1993), Bobbe Brox (1902–1999), Patricia Brox (1904–1988)
The Brox Sisters were a trio of singers famous in the vaudeville circuit during the1920s and 1930s. Sheeler photographed the trio for the September 1927 issue of Vogue.
Ilka Chase (1900–1978)
Ilka Chase was an actress and novelist. The daughter of Vogue editor-in-chief Edna Woolman Chase, Ilka made her Broadway debut in the performance of The Red Falcon and continued to wow audiences in various Broadway performances throughout the 1920s. She also acted in films in the 1950s. Sheeler captured Ilka in the Condé Nast apartment for Vogue’s August issue in 1927.
Ina Claire (1893–1985)
Born Ina Fagan in Washington, D.C., Ina Claire began her career as a vaudeville performer in the early 20th century. Known for her comedic sensibility, Claire’s first film was Cecil B. DeMille’s The Wild Goose Chase (1915), but she is perhaps best known as the Grand Duchess in Ninotchka (1939). Sheeler photographed Claire on April 29th, 1926, as Betsy Ross for the Sesquicentennial commemorative issue of Vanity Fair. At the time, she was starring as Mrs. Cheyney in the Broadway comedy, The Last of Mrs. Cheyney
Lya de Putti (?–1931)
Lya de Putti was a Hungarian film actress best known for her contributions to the American silent film industry. She was typically cast as a vamp in productions, with her first performance in D. W. Griffith’s The Sorrows of Satan in 1926. That same year, Sheeler photographed Lya for the July issue of Vogue.
The Eaton Sisters
Mary Eaton (1901–1948), Pearl Eaton (1898–1958), Doris Eaton (1904–2004)
The sisters, born in Norfolk, were among seven children for the Eaton family. In 1911, Mary, Pearl, and Doris appeared in a 1911 production of The Blue Bird by Maurice Maeterlinck at Washington’s Belasco Theatre. From this experience, the sisters landed professional assignments which allowed them to perform at the Poli Theatre in Washington, in Ziegfeld Follies revues in New York, and in other well-known musicals of the 1920s. Sheeler photographed the sisters for the March 1928 issue of Vanity Fair.
Lynne Fontanne (1887–1983) and Alfred Lunt (1892–1977)
The British-born comedic actress Lillie Louise Fontanne was a leading star in theatre and film beginning in the 1920s. She often appeared with her husband, Alfred Lunt, to whom she was married for fifty-five years, and the two were the 20th century’s pre-eminent couple on Broadway. Sheeler’s first portrait of Fontanne appeared in Vanity Fair in April 1926, when she was starring on Broadway in Pygmalion. Lunt’s portrait was taken by Sheeler for Vanity Fair in 1927, when he was starring with George Gaul in the Theatre Guild’s Karamazov Brothers, and again in 1928, when he starred in Eugene O’Neill’s Marco’s Millions. The two were inseparable and were frequently photographed together by both Steichen and Sheeler. Sheeler shot them dressed as George and Martha Washington, for Vanity Fair’s Sesquicentennial issue (they were also starring in those roles in a revival of the play First Lady of the Land), and later in 1928, when she was in Eugene O’Neill’s Strange Interlude, and he was appearing in Caprice.
George Gaul (1885–1939)
George Gaul was considered one of the best stage actors of the 1920s. George is perhaps best known for his role as Chico in the original Broadway production of Seventh Heaven in 1922. Sheeler photographed George alongside Alfred Lunt in the March 1927 issue of Vanity Fair. The two stage actors were dressed in character as the Karamazov Brothers for the Theatre Guild’s rendition of Fyodor Mikhaylovitch Dostoyevsky’s play The Brothers Karamazov.
Alden Gay (1899–1979)
Alden Gay Thomson was an actress, model, and one of the founding members of the Screen Actors Guild. During the 1920s, Gay graced the cover of Vogue and Vanity Fair. Her stages credits include Greenwich Follies and Dearest Enemy in New York, and Private Lives, So This Is London, and Springtime for Henry in Los Angeles. She also starred in the 1933 hit The Big Bluff. Sheeler photographed Alden Gay for the May 1926 issue of Vogue.
John Gilbert (1895–1936)
John Gilbert (born John Cecil Pringle) was an American actor, screenwriter, and director, who rose to fame during the era of silent films. He starred alongside some of Hollywood’s leading actresses, including Mary Pickford, Grete Garbo, Norma Shearer, Renée Adorée, Lilian Gish, and Marlene Dietrich. He was linked romantically to Garbo and was married briefly to actress Ina Claire. When Sheeler photographed him for the June 1926 issue of Vanity Fair, Gilbert was at the height of his popularity, and was likely promoting Flesh and the Devil, his first film with Garbo, or La Bohème, with Gish and Adorée.
Miriam Hopkins (1902–1972)
Miriam Hopkins was a top film star of Hollywood’s Golden Age. Starting her career as a chorus girl, she quickly rose to fame after signing to Paramount in 1930. She starred in films such as The Smiling Lieutenant (1931) and Trouble in Paradise (1931). Aside from her talent, Miriam was also notable for her difficult attitude and strained working relationship with actress Bette Davis. Sheeler photographed Miriam for the May 1929 issue of Vogue when she was starring in Frantisek Langer’s play The Camel through the Needle’s Eye.
Alice Joyce (1890–1955)
Alice Joyce was an actress best known for her appearances in more than 200 films during the 1910s and 1920s. Born in Kansas City, Missouri, Alice worked as a telephone operator and a fashion model before hitting the big screen. Some of her most notable films were The Courage of Silence, The Green Goddess, and The Home Maker. When Sheeler photographed Alice for the November 1926 issue of Vogue, Alice was considered one of the top actresses in the silent film industry.
Madge Kennedy (1891–1987)
Madge Kennedy was a film and stage actress during the silent film era. Madge first appeared on Broadway in the early 1910s and entered film in 1917 with Baby Mine. While performing in Phillip Barry’s play Paris Bound, Madge sat for Sheeler for the March 1928 issue of Vogue. The actress would continue to star in films until 1976.
Helen Menken (1901–1966)
Helen Menken was the queen of Broadway during the 1920s. Born to deaf parents, Helen learned to talk by listening to strangers on the street. She began going on auditions when she was just 5 years old, joined the vaudeville circuit in her teens, and proved herself in Broadway with her performance in Three Wise Fools in 1919. Sheeler photographed Menken in 1926 and again in 1931 for Vanity Fair.
Goodee Montgomery (1906–1978)
Goodee Montgomery was a Broadway actress during the 1920s and 1930s. Sheeler photographed Goodee a number of times for Condé Nast, including the March 1927 issue of Vogue in support of the comedic play Piggy (later changed to I Told You So.)
Ann Pennington (1893–1971)
Ann Pennington was a notable Broadway actress and vaudeville performer. She was born in Wilmington, Delaware and grew up in Camden, New Jersey. In the 1910s, Ann performed in a number of Zeigfeld Follies and George White’s Scandals revues, where she famously danced the Black Bottom. Sheeler photographed Ann in a series of poses for the August 1926 issue of Vanity Fair. Each photo showcases a different dance pose from the Black Bottom.
Norma Shearer (1902–1983)
Norma Shearer was a Hollywood starlet in the late 1920s through the early 1940s. Despite being rejected by Ziegfeld for a role with the Follies, she appeared in a number of films including Romeo and Juliet (1936) and won an Oscar for her performance in The Divorcee. Norma sat for Sheeler in 1926 for both Vogue and Vanity Fair.
Lenore Ulric (1892–1970)
A native of Minnesota, Lenore Ulric (born Ulrich) starred in a number of stock theatre productions in the ‘teens before moving to Broadway, where she was discovered by producer David Belasco. Sheeler photographed Ulric a number of times, including a shoot for the Sesquicentennial issue of Vanity Fair costumed as Dolly Madison, but his most striking portrait was taken for the August 1926 issue, when she was appearing in her greatest starring role, the Broadway sensation Lulu Belle, about a bewitching black singer from New Orleans. The show ran for more than a year between February 1926 and March 1927.
Georges Carpentier (1894–1975)
European champion boxer, actor, and World War I pilot, Frenchman Georges Carpentier is best known today for his World Heavyweight Championship match against Jack Dempsey in 1921 (for boxing’s first million-dollar gate), which he lost in a knock-out in the fourth round. In 1926, when Sheeler captured Carpentier dancing the Charleston for Vanity Fair’s June issue, the boxer had just launched a vaudeville career; he appeared in more than a dozen films before 1934, when he became the proprietor of the chic Parisian nightclub Chez Georges Carpentier.
Rosa Ponselle (1897–1981)
Rosa Ponselle was an operatic soprano most notably known for her performances with the New York Metropolitan Opera. Sheeler photographed Rosa for the January 1928 issue of Vanity Fair.
Google Art Project
Experience the Michener Art Museum’s permanent collection in a whole new way with the Google Art Project. You can now wander the museum galleries using the same technology as Google Street View.