Cover image for Lillian Russell : a biography of "America's Beauty"
Lillian Russell : a biography of "America's Beauty"
Fields, Armond, 1930-
Personal Author:
Publication Information:
Jefferson, N.C. : McFarland, [1999]

Physical Description:
vii, 237 pages : illustrations ; 27 cm
Personal Subject:
Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
PN2287.R83 F54 1999 Adult Non-Fiction Central Closed Stacks

On Order



Colorful and boisterous first nights were the rule in New York theaters of the 1880s. Everyone, it seemed, attended, from the rich and powerful to young people who scraped together just enough money to buy a ticket. And no star was more popular among these two groups and all those in between than Lillian Russell.At a time when serious plays dominated the stages, Lillian Russell was one of the first to popularize musical theater. With her beauty, voice, and grace, she became the symbol of the new American woman. She used those attributes to attain power, social status and wealth, and then went on to become one of the earliest champions of women's equality. Her life and career are covered here in-depth, with particular focus on the way she influenced theater history and the popular culture of her day.

Reviews 1

Choice Review

Once celebrated across the US as the queen of comic opera and musical burlesque, notorious for breaking contracts both theatrical and marital, idolized for her enduring beauty, Lillian Russell is scarcely remembered today. Her only previous biography, Parker Morell's Lillian Russell: The Era of Plush (1940), is now superseded by this crisply journalistic retelling of her life and times. Fields so lards the volume with vignettes of theaters, movements, and fellow performers that it might serve as an informative introduction to popular entertainment from Gilbert & Sullivan and Tony Pastor's "variety" in the 1880s to Weber & Fields and F.F. Proctor's "vaudeville" in the next two decades. Fields' account is popular and narrative, not scholarly or analytic, but barring the discovery of letters and diaries to augment the newspaper accounts Fields chiefly relies on, readers may never comprehend this woman who was happier with close male friends than with any of her four husbands, who was preoccupied with personal beauty and status while championing women's suffrage and Actors' Equity. This substantial biography, fortified with numerous informatively captioned illustrations and a useful chronology, is recommended for readers interested in popular theater, cultural history, or the lives of remarkably able women. Large collections at all levels. J. Ellis formerly, Mount Holyoke College