An "American dancer and adventuress," the woman later known as Lola Montez has several different birthdates, but scholar Bruce Seymour argues that she was likely born in 1820 in Ireland as Marie Dolores Eliza Rosanna Gilbert (Seymour 4). The thrice-married Gilbert first debuted in London as "Lola Montez" in 1843 and experienced success in Europe. In 1847, as the mistress of Louis I of Bavaria, Montez was made Baroness Rosenthal and Countess Lansfeld and was able to control the Bavarian government until she was opposed by the Jesuits and ousted by revolution in 1848 ("Montez"). Throughout her travels, she is reported to have had relationships with Franz Liszt and Alexandre Dumas (http://www.britannica.com/EBchecked/topic/390847/Lola-Montez).
Montez debuted on the American stage in 1851 as a dancer. She experienced a brief period of fame when she attracted large audiences, but her early fame and talent quickly came into question. According to George C. Odell, "she proved conclusively...that scandal does not necessarily create a great dancer. She was found to be commonplace and quite unsensational." Odell concedes, however, "Of course Lola Montes is still a name to conjure among collectors of stage curios and items of decadent import; she was, in truth, a personality of vivid and alluring interest" (6:115-116). Most likely regarded as a lower-level performer with questionable respectability, her "Farce," the play Lola Montes in Bavaria (1852) is her most memorable stage credit, even though Odell cites it as an example of "degeneracy of the stage in our own time." Montez played herself in the dramatization of her life and connections at the Bavarian court (Odell 6:119-120). The play would continue to be performed at the Bowery after her departure from the theater (Odell 6:139). Montez performed onstage in Australia from 1855-1856 ("Montez") and returned to New York, where, during the 1857-1858 season she was "but a shadow in memory of that Lola who had so proudly entered this very theater [the Broadway] only a few years before" (Odell 7:6).
Montez settled back in New York after her failed Australia tour. Writing in 1857, Thomas Gunn linked her to the "King of Pfaff's," writing that Clapp "knew her from Paris and visits her now" (Gunn, vol. 9, 68). Another biorgapher connected her more concretely to the group writing, "Lola's tastes were distinctively 'Bohemian,' and led her, while in New York, to be a constant visitor at Pfaff's underground" (Wyndham 192). During this period, Montez ended her career in the entertainment industry and turned her attention to more intellectual pursuits hosting a series of lectures in the city (Odell 7:293). Gunn wrote about attending one of these lectures in his diary remembering that "she has a pleasant voice, indicative, though, of latent shrewishness when she grows excited; and speaks with a French accent. The lecture 'On the Wits and Women of Paris' was amusing, discursive, ungrammatical, immethodical [sic] and anecdotal." Gunn later parenthetically noted that "she does write her own lectures." (Gunn, vol. 9, 67). Montez, during these years, also authored the books Anecdotes of Love (1858) and Arts of Beauty (1858) ("Montez"). In the summer of 1860, Montez suffered a stroke, the results of which left her paralyzed and unable to speak (Seymour 390). Montez was able to make somewhat of a recovery in the fall, and it was after a walk outside on a cold Decemeber day that she came down with pneumonia. Unable to make another miraculous recovery, Montez died on January 17, 1861 (Seymour 392-3).
A Saturday Press review of Lola Montez's impending retirement is criticized.[pages:3]
Figaro clarifies that the piece Lolah being performed at the Haymarket in London is not a version of Lola Montez, but an adaptation of The Sea of Ice (137).[pages:137]
Gunn mentions Lola Montez: "Sunday. Drawing till 8 in the evening. The Barnum and Lola Montez affair" (20).
Gunn mentions Montez while describing his evening: "Evening, making a portrait of Lola Montez on wood, from a very fine engraving Holbrook had brought. Finished it by midnight" (37).
Gunn states, "Much talk of the Forrest Case, and of Lola Montez, who ere long appears at the Broadway, some declaring her to be an angel, others an ugly, vicious old woman" (48).[pages:20, 37, 48]
Gunn recollects, "By 8 1/2 to Beach Street. Mrs Kidder and Lotty both returned. More and others present, and Whytal. Learnt from Mrs K how Scoville of 'the Pick,' and his wife were boarding there, and there'd been a row 'twixt him and mother-in-law touching his former intimacy with Lola Montez."[pages:35, 37]
Gunn mentions attending a lecture by Lola Montez, "With Haney to "Hope Chapel" intending to hear Lola Montez lecture, but the place was already filled. So went to Edwards'. The talk ran on the feeling entertained by this country towards England. I hold it to be antagonistic, and think when Englishmen try to believe the reverse they indulge in a mischievous delusion. No country loves England, but she'll hold her own in spite of them, for she is better, braver and freer than they are" (65).
Gunn details his attendance of Lola Montez's lecture, "Cahill came in at night with tickets for Lola Montez lecture, so we all went. The place, Hope Chapel, was cram jam full, so we did a bit of impudence, pushing our way towards the rostrum and trusting to chances. An attendant got seats for Haney and Cahill; I esconsed [sic] myself on the steps beside the lecturer, where I was closer to her (and more generally prominent) than the rest of the audience. So I had a good look at Lola. She must have been exceedingly handsome, is now a trifle passee, has very fine dark eyes, nose just a little bit acquiline [sic], good profile, beautiful throat and black hair. She was drest in exquisite taste, black velvet, not low in the neck, with white-lace berthe or collar, or whatever the women call it. The graceful slope of her back and full- though not crinolinelyvulgarized- redundant-swell of skirt was as Parisian as though she'd stept [sic] out of Gavarni. She has a pleasant voice, indicative, though, of latent shrewishness when she grows excited; and speaks with a French accent. The lecture "On the Wits and Women of Paris" was amusing, discursive, ungrammatical, immethodical [sic] and anecdotal. You could read the woman very well through it. (She does write her own lectures.) Her admiration of Dumas, Mery &c and their free and easy lives, gettings into debt and theatrical generosities was very characteristic. She quoted a very ^|un-|equivocal answer of – I think – Dejazet's the actress, who being questioned as to how she had acquired such formative, jewelry &c said It was the result of a thousand and one nights. The audience were hardly quick-witted enough to catch this. She pitched into American ladies respecting there love of dress – whereat some of them scowled and the men applauded. Parton, Fanny Fern & her daughter were present in the gallery, though we didn't perceive them. Here's a story or two of Lola, from Clapp who knew her in Paris and visits her now. In order to avoid the trouble of dressing her hair, which is, really, very good, she on one occasion before lecturing, clapped on a wig. Dressing once, while he sat talking to her in an ajoining [sic] room, she put out her head (in order to see if he were attentive) her face covered with soap suds and cigar in mouth! She smokes incessantly, making her own cigars. Being remonstrated with on the former indulgence by a railroad conductor, (Lola has got into innumerable rows from persistence in smoking in the cars) she put the comether over him by asking "Ye're from Oireland?" and describing herself as "a little girl from the auld counthry!" (67-69).
Gunn recalls a quote from Lola Montez's lecture, "A man would be an ass to affect any impossi- bly high moral standard in judging his intimates – "nobody expects men to be moral" as Lola Montez said – but don't let us help to make women as bad as ourselves" (87).[pages:65, 67-69, 87]
A benefit was held for her on January 9,1852. Montes' burlesque was performed at the Bowery again in the summer of 1852 both with Lola Montes starring in the lead role and after her departure from the theater.[pages:68, 115-116, 118(ill.), 119-120, 121, 138-139, 191,586]
Montes also gave a series of talks: two autobiographical lectures and two lectures on other topics. Odell also mentions that Montes lectures in 1859-60 season "considerably chastened" (293).[pages:6, 293]
Personne describes Menken as "a prarie Lola Montez" (3).[pages:3]
Quelqu'un claims that Montez's "greatest mistake...was in once attempting to define and defend her position." He claims that The Saturday Press holds evidence of the "consequence" that she "exposed herself to the lugubrious and worse than Pecksniffian whines and whimperings of the Sunday press." Discusses how she was subjected to a "sermon" by a Sunday editor as she was "lying at the point of death." Describes her as a "brilliant and fascinating woman" (3).[pages:3]
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