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FOOTLIGHT NOTES
no. 451

updated
Saturday, 6 May 2006

Gaby Deslys and Harry Pilcer
find unprecedented success with
'The Gaby Glide', 1911-1914

Gaby Deslys and Harry Pilcer

song sheet cover for 'The Gaby Glide' with a photograph of Gaby Deslys and Harry Pilcer
as they appeared in Vera Viloletta at the Winter Garden Theatre, New York, 20 November 1911

(photo: unknown, New York, 1911;
artwork by Starmer, published by the Shapiro Music Pub. Co., New York, 1911)

"The Gaby Glide", an international hit of 1911/12, written by Louis A. Hirsch, with words by Harry Pilcer, was introduced with Ned Wayburn choreography by Gaby Deslys and Harry Pilcer in Vera Violetta, the successful musical produced at the Winter Garden Theatre, New York, on 20 November 1911. It proved such a popular item that Deslys and Pilcer appeared with it as Yvonne and Billy in Mlle. Chic at the Palace Theatre, London (August 1912) as well as in several other pieces including The Little Parisienne during a short tour in the United States early in 1914.

The song was also performed by many other artists around the world and was even incorporated into other shows, such as in the London Hippodrome revue, Hullo Ragtime! and in the Australian production of the successful London musical, The Sunshine Girl in which it was sung by Jessie Lonnen (a daughter of E.J. Lonnen).

Gaby Deslys and Harry Pilcer


Gaby Deslys and Harry Pilcer as Yvonne and Billy in
Mlle. Chic, Palace Theatre of Varieties, London, August 1912

(photo: Foulsham & Banfield, London, 1912)

Inevitably 'The Gaby Glide' found its way into recording studios and there are many contemporary disc and cylinder versions to prove the point. The prolific American recording artist Billy Murray made his recording of 'The Gaby Glide' for the Victor label (17077) in 1912 (Mp3 file by courtesy of the Internet Archive); another, military band version (1.16MB wav file) from the same date also survives.

Gabys Deslys, Harry Pilcer and company to appear in The Little Parisienne, Fort Wayne, Indiana, early 1914.
'Gaby Deslys Coming Saturday.
'Surrounded by her marvelous retinue and bringing her fabulous collection of gems and her many changes of costume, Gaby Deslys will be seen at the Majestic theatre Saturday matinee and night in a modern three-act musical play entitled The Little Parisienne.
'She will be supported by the Winter Garden Co., including such well-known players as Harry Pilcer, Forrest Huff, Fritzi Von Busing, Edgar Atchison-Ely, Charles Angelo and others and a large chorus.
'This is Gaby's first American tour, and it is also said it will be her last, as upon the conclusion of her engagement at the Winter Garden, she will return to Paris, never again to be seen in this country. Of all foreign stars, she is, without question, the one who has risen to the greatest height of fame. Not satisfied with resting on her laurels, Gaby has worked industriously to perfect her art as a singer and dancer. Even during the summer, when she returns to France, she is constantly at work. This seasons she will be seen in the prima donna role of a three-act musical comedy. In The Little Parisienne she will, of course, be given every opportunity to display her talent as an actress, a singer, and a dancer. With Mr. Pilcer she will do four or five specialities that have brought fame to both of them at the Winter Garden, and in many European music halls. Among these may be mentioned the well-known "Gaby Glide."
'Coming here almost direct from Paris, Gaby brings with her many gowns that have never been worn. They are all the very latest Parisian creations. Most of them have been designed by Gaby, while she has had the help of leading dressmakers of the French capital. Her stage gowns are all, as in keeping with Gaby, exotic and bizarre. She prides herself on being the best and most expensively dressed woman in the world, which is no hazard. She maintains, and very justly, that two-thirds of her time is given up to the designing and fitting on of costumes, the selecting of material. Consultation with her dressmakers, etc.'
(The Fort Wayne Journal-Gazette, Fort Wayne, Indiana, 27 January 1914, 2nd section, p.9b)

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