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Edwardian Beauty: Edna Wallace Hopper
by David for group historicalziegfeld Oct 19, 2010

She was small--96 lbs. and 4' 10" tall in her bare feet. When she played Lady Holyrood in the smash 1900 musical, "Floradora," the famous matched sextet of chorines, 'The Floradora Girls,' loomed six inches taller than her. Child of a broken marriage, heir of a wealthy step-father, she was known as a remarkably 'game girl' up for any adventure or theatrical challenge. Photographers loved her for her willingness to try on any costume, clamber over any paper mache boulder, and make any face the camera man suggested. Married to musical comedian DeWolf Hopper in the 1890s, she was a fixture on the operetta stage during the Gilded Age. After their divorce, she became obsessed with the preservation of beauty against age, and became one of the first cosmetic gurus of the 20th century. Facial surgery, creams, powders, and oils kept her face remarkably unchanged until she turned 60. In this suite of photos by several photographers from the first 21 years of her career, she seems a peculiarly antic spirit, a possessor of that talismanic quality--personality--that early 20th theatrical producers made their fetish. David S. Shields

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