Getty Gay, born Gertrude Louise Vultee, was an actress as well as a major contributor to the Saturday Press (Gunn 11.162, 14.16-7). Although not much is known about her artistic career, the obituary of Henry Clapp calls Gay "a talented bit of womanhood" (7). A. L. Rawson connects Gay to the scene at Pfaff’s through Ada Clare and Charles Gayler: “Ada [Clare] was never without a woman companion, and one of them was Getty Gay, who was pretty, bright and witty. Her lithe and petite figure and sweetly sad face were ever welcome among the Pfaffians” (103).
While Rawson goes on to assert that Gay “became the wife of Charles Gaylor,” the diaries of Thomas Butler Gunn clarifies that she was Gayler’s mistress and that the two lived together. Gunn writes that Gayler “was not constant to his mistress nor – in all probability – is she faithful to him (10.35). Writing disparagingly of Gay as one of several “Unfortunate Literary Females,” Gunn also accuses Gay of “add[ing] direct prostitution to her ‘literary’ pursuits” (11.161) and suggests that she was romantically involved with Cahill, Wilkins, and possibly Ada Clare. However, Gunn admits that he never met Gay. Gay was married to a Mr. Wilmshurst, both of whom lived with Clare at one point, and died around the age of twenty of consumption (Gunn 14.16-17).
She is mentioned as one of the Bohemians' "female companions" at Pfaff's. Browne describes her as "a pretty little creature," and guesses that "Getty Gay" is an assumed name. She was an actress (157).[pages:157]
Clare recommeds reading Getty Gay's "Waking from Illusions," a sketch found in the previous week's Saturday Press (2).[pages:2]
Referred to as "Lady Gay."
Gunn speculates that Getty Gay had an affair with Charles Gayler, "which together with his wife and family – four or five children – he abandoned for a married woman of the Allie Vernon stripe with whom he lives now, miserably enough. Levison and Haney met him once, when he intimated his intention to commit suicide, saying he 'was going to hell direct'. He is not constant to his mistress nor – in all probability – is she faithful to him. He had an affair with 'Getty Gay' – another little, literaryish [sic] strumpet of the Allie V. order who writes idiotic bosh in one of the Sunday papers. I believe he got into a quarrel with Underhill about her."[pages:35]
Gunn mentions Getty Gay when describing the Saturday Press: "Clapp's 'Saturday Press' still survives – how kept alive, only he knows. It is impudent, flippant, Frenchy and pretentious, principally got together on the dead-head principle. Arnold sends gratis contributions, 'Ada Clare' 'Getty Gay' and other unfortunate literary females combine to fill its columns. Clapp's 'Saturday Press' still survives – how kept alive, only he knows. It is impudent, flippant, Frenchy and pretentious, principally got together on the dead-head principle. Arnold sends gratis contributions, 'Ada Clare' 'Getty Gay' and other unfortunate literary females combine to fill its columns" (160).
Gunn describes Getty Gay: "'Getty Gay' has still more of the core of bitch in her, as Smollet's Trunnion would say. By Arnold's account she adds direct prostitution to her 'literary' pursuits, taking rides in omnibuses of afternoons and Broadway promenades to pick up $5 with men attached. He, Arnold, visited some female of his acquaintance who resided at the same house with 'Getty' and the one strumpet tattled this of the other. Gaylor had to do with this 'Getty' in the 'Ornithorynchus' days. I think he quarreled with Wilkins of the Herald about her. She brought M.S. to the Pic once, when Cahill assumed the part of editor, Mort Thomson being out. Cahill flattered her, and I believe on Mort's condemning the article as bosh, paid for it himself. He was on the scent after carrion, too. All 'whores and rogues' like Gonzalo's kingdom" (161-162).
Gunn mentions Gay as a major contributor to the Saturday Press: "To return to the Saturday Press. Clapp generally does an impudent, flippant, Frenchy tainted editorial in paragraphs of one sentence each, the rest is Ada Clare, Getty Gay, Banks (and brays) Arnold &c &c" (162).[pages:160-162]
Gunn describes Getty Gay visiting Pffaf's: "She, 'Getty Gay' and other Unfortunate Literary Females go down to Pfaffs with the men, sitting at the sacred round table, in the cellar &c. 'Ada Clare' sticks out everywhere in the columns of the 'Saturday Press'; she writes articles and the others praise them."[pages:18]
Getty Gay's death is described, ""Getty Gay" one of the literary unfortunate females and Bohemiennes is dead. I never met the woman, but have heard of her often enough. She wrote trash for the Sunday papers and once brought something to the "Pic.", when Cahill saw her and proposed using it, paying for it himself, by way of commencing an intimacy with her. Gayler was said to have been one of her male "friends" in the Ornithorynchus' time, I have heard that he quarreled with Wilkins about her. She was one of the Allie Vernon stamp, a married woman, her maiden name Gertrude Louise Vultee, her married one, Wilmshurst. Her husband edits a feeble weekly, entitled the "Traveller," in this city; both he and she lived with "Ada Clare" otherwise Miss Micklehenning – the fast literary woman. Shepherd tells me that the Bohemians had a whispered rumor that the affection between these women was of a Parisian, Sapphic charater – it may be so, or only a monstrous canard originating in the depraved minds of such men as Clapp or O'Brien. Judging from "Ada"'s writings, one might credit it. This wretched "Getty" "quitted this world of care and pain, and found rest and peace with her Creator" – I quote the "Traveller" – on the 21st, being about twenty years old and dying of consumption. What a life, and what a termination to it! Bohemianism! were there no Bohemians in Sodom and Gomorrah, I wonder?"[pages:16-17]
This text identifies the following pseudonym: Mrs. William Bennett (39).[pages:39]
Getty Gay was known to Pfaffians as a "pretty little creature" who had been an actress (58).[pages:58, 60]
One of several women who frequented Pfaff's.[pages:16]
She was a regualar at Pfaff's and described as "a talented bit of womanhood." According to the "Obituary" she "died long ago."[pages:7]
A regular at Pfaff's.[pages:142]
The Vault at Pfaff's
27 Memorial Drive West, Bethlehem, PA 18015