Sunday, October 24, 2010

Mae West: Gilda Gray

MAE WEST claimed to have introduced the shimmy in 1918 — — when she sang "Everybody Shimmies Now" — — and when she posed for the song sheet. Later she added the shimmy to her act in the Hammerstein production of "Sometime" in 1919. For all that hype, the most notable performer of the shimmy was Gilda Gay. Unfortunately, Gilda described it as "a native dance," giving Mae the chance to scoff to reporters, "Native to where? She's Polish!"
• • Gilda Gray [24 October 1901 — 22 December 1959] was a Polish born American actress and dancer who became famous in the US for popularizing a dance called the "shimmy," which became fashionable in 1920s films and theater productions.
• • Although Shim-Me-Sha-Wabble is widely considered the origin of the shimmy, legend has it that the shimmy was first performed to "The Saint Louis Blues" by W. C. Handy, and by Gilda Gray at the Winter Garden Theater in New York City.
• • Not to be outdone, Mae included the shimmy in "Sex" and she also used the same music by W.C. Handy in this number. We are relishing these unsaintly memories on 24 October, Gilda's birthday.
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