Press Clippings for the week ending
Saturday, 23 August 2008

A random selection of clippings
from newspapers and magazines

The notorious Bettina Girard;
her career as actress and divorcee, 1901

Bettina Girard (1868?-1905), American actress and singer

(photo: Baker's Art Gallery, Columbus, Ohio, circa 1890)

'Whose Marriages and Divorces Were Once the sensations of Two Continents - Romantic Record of Wrong Doing.
'In one of the old and aristocratic houses of Denver a woman, who was once the talk of two continents, is quietly spending the summer. Her present name is Mrs. Francis Witter, though she is best known to the American people as Bettina Girard. Hers has been an eventful career.
'She is the daughter of the late Gen. Ordway, who died in New York in 1897, as the result of a broken heart as much as anything else. Gen. Ordway was commander of the militia of the District of Columbia. He was wealthy, a club man and a social favorite. Bettina, or, as she was christened, Elizabeth, was so beautiful that when she was sent to the convent at Georgetown the nuns predicted a brilliant future made up of joy and love and well-doing. She finished her eduction at a private finishing school, where the society women of Washington were educated. She played and danced, and excelled in outdoor sports. In addition to this, she was a splendid linguist. Her entrance into society was a brilliant occasion. She was the brightest when a contest of wit was on. She was the life of a dinner. She was the one woman looked at in a ball-room. The summer following her debut, with Gen. and Mrs. Ordway, she went to White Sulphur, Virginia's famous summer resort. At a dinner remarkable for the number of diplomats present, a young attache of the French legation, who had fallen deeply in love with her, clapped his hands when a toast was proposed to her. He had taken her to dinner. '''You will not listen to me,'' he said: ''I am young, unknown. The men who pay you court are distinguished, famous. Mon Dieu, if fame would only come to me!''
'''Bien,'' Betinna answered, ''M'sieu I shall make you famous.''
'She sprang to the seat of her chair.
'''Listen,'' she cried. ''This gentleman will drink my health, and the health to fame.''
'Amid perfect silence she slipped off her satin slipper, filled it with sparking champagne and handed it to the young Frenchman. Although he blushed crimson in his embarrassment, he drank it off. Benttina snatched the slipper from him and drained another health.
'It was talked of all over the country. Gen. Ordway and his wife, scrandalized, hastily left White Sulphur, taking their daughter with them.
'Shortly after this she met Arthur Padelford, the only son and heir of one of Boston's wealthiest men. She married him. The wedding, which took place at St. John's church in Washington, as attended by all of the best social set.
'''A good thing,'' said her friends: ''the girl will now settle down.''
'The honeymoon was spent in Europe. They wandered happily down the Rhine, across the Alps, went into Italy and the wild spirit of the maiden seemed to have become tamed in the bride. At Vienna a child was born to them. It was over this child that they had their first quarrel. Padelford left her in Vienna, returning to this country. Many rumors followed him. As if to bring disgrace upon the name of Padelford, she decided to go upon the comic opera stage. In her debut she shared the honors with Henry Dixey. She was only 21.
'Marriage and Dirvorce.
'Divorced, she married a man named Girard. She dropped the name of Padelford on her advertising matter upon the payment of $50,000 in cash from her former husband. An then, in quick succession, came marriage and divorce, marriage and divorce. Separating from Girard, she Jack Rolface [sic, actually Jack Raffael], a tenor who had been stabbed nearly to death a few months before by Robert Monroe. Then she became the wife of John Harrison Wolff, an actor. Then came William Beach, another actor. A divorce suit was brought by Mrs. Philip Schuyler in which she figures as co-respondent. When it was ended Beach was divorced and Bettina added Schuyler to her already long list of names. Her father, G. Ordway, offered her an annuity of $1,000 for life to leave the country. She went to London with Schuyler, and collapsed physically when she made her debut.
'The Last Chapter
'She returned to America and went into a private sanitarium, dissipation having so weakened her. It was in November of 1897 that Gen. Ordway, Mrs. Ordway and Miss Padelford, Bettina Girard's daughter, returned from Europe to New York. They found Bettina lying deserted by her friends in Bellevue Hospital. The old general shook his head when a reconciliation was mentioned; but Mrs. Ordway, the mother, pleased with him sobbingly. November 21 Gen. Ordway died at the Hoffman House. Before he passed away, and due to the pleading of his wife, he permitted an interview with Bettina, and was making plans for a return to Washington with her and a reunion of the family when he died.
'Bettina finally recovered her health and recently in Chicago she married Francis Witter, a youth just entering upon a promising theatrical career.'
(Terril Tribune, Terril, Iowa, Friday, 6 September 1901, p. 3d/e)

The question as to who first drank champagne from a lady's slipper is addressed here, although the correspondent neglects to mention the English actress Ruby Miller who, as a young member of London's Gaiety Theatre chorus around 1903, claimed to have been toasted from her slipper by a Russian Grand Duke at a private party. She subsequently wrote an autobiography, Champagne From My Slipper, published by Herbert Jenkins in London in 1962.

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Piff, Paff, Pouf and the
radium ballet, USA, 1904/1905

Pony Ballet in Piff, Paff, Pouf

The Pony Ballet girls
(Evelyn Marlowe, Beatrice Liddell, Seppie McNeil, Lizette Hawman,
Dorothy Marlowe, Louise Hawman, Carrie Poltz and Ada Robertson)
in their 'radium' dance in Piff, Paff, Pouf, first produced at the
Casino Theatre, New York, 2 April 1904

(photo: Hall, New York, 1904)

'New York, July 2 - The theatrical entrepreneur, like the Athenian of old, is always on the look out for ''some new thing.'' Six months ago comparatively few people even knew that there was such a substance as radium in existence. Then the magazines and newspapers began publishing accounts of the metal's discovery and of its many peculiar qualities. Somehow or other these articles caught the attention of the public, which is seldom interested in scientific matters, and any and everything bearing upon the magic metal was read with avidity. This, of course, was good advertising, and a New York manager promptly set himself to work to reap the benefit. He announced a ''Radium Ballet,'' and the mere announcement filled his theater. Then he dressed his coryphees in an inexpensive material smeared with ''radium paint,'' which caused it to glow brightly, even when all light had been banished from the stage. This was a stroke of managerial genius, and the man employed to carry this particular manager's money to the bank promptly got curvature of the spine from overexertion. However, enough radium to produced that terpsichorean illumination would be worth into six figures at the lowest calculation, and entre nous, luminous paint has been used for years, as every child knows.'
(The Daily Northwestern, Oshkosh, Wisconsin, Saturday, 2 July 1904, p. 10c)

'The public is familiar with the scarecrow and the tin man as portrayed by Montgomery and Stone, and of the rubber man by a famous vaudeville acrobat, and now comes Denman Maley as the sand man in Piff, Paff, Pouf, which will be seen at the Majestic Monday, June 12 [1905], and Maley's novelty is said to be even more ludicrously funny that any of the above mentioned characterizations. The scene in question finds Maley on the seashore. He is made up to represent a sand model, and after some manipulation by the supposed modeller, who accompanies him, he is made to execute an eccentric dance.
'The Radium ballet, which is one of the most brilliant novelties of Piff, Paff, Pouf, is executed by the eight little English girls who compose the Pony ballet. The stage and auditorium of the theater are made perfectly dark, and then appear the eight little figures in a skipping rope dance. Their white costumes are coated with luminous preparation, a certain percentage of which is said to be the precious radium, that makes them glow in the dark like gigantic fire-flies. It is a very pretty stage effect. Jean Schwartz has composed a characteristic dance, which is one of the most effective numbers in Piff, Paff, Pouf.
'The eight little dancing girls who compose the English Pony ballet of Piff, Paff, Pouf, live on the community plan. Miss Beatrice Liddell, of their number, acts as financial manager for the Ponies. Their salaries go into one fund, and at the end of the week the unused balance (and it is usually a pretty good sum) is sent to a certain London bank. The Ponies realize that they cannot always be pretty and supple, and are preparing for that time while the sun shines.'
(The Fort Wayne Evening Sentinel, Fort Wayne, Indiana, Saturday, 10 June 1905, p. 16f/g)

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Marthe Régnier's thoughts on
fashion, Paris, 1910

Marthe Régnier

Marthe Régnier (1880-1967), French actress

(photo: unknown, probably Paris, circa 1905)

'Madam Marthe Regnier is Laying Down Law on Fashions.
'PARIS, Jan. 22 [1910]. - No actress is anybody this season unless she takes the professional chair and gives lectures. The unfortunate thing is that they never lecture on the one thing they know, which surely must be acting. But Mme. Regnier has at all events chose a kindred topic, with which she is undoubtedly family, viz., fashions. She has, it seems, made an exhaustive study of the subject, from hats to lingerie. Her lecture will, at all events, being at the beginning - not merely at, but before the Deluge, for she lays it down incontrovertibly that the first woman to be in the fashion was Eva. She naturally ''dressed to please Adam.'' Yet Mme. Regnier denies that all women dress only to please men.
'''Of course we went to please men, but we also want to look nice for our own sakes. Any one of us alone on a desert island would still contrive to look nice with a flower in her hair,'' she says.
'This is a fact which Mme. Regnier is compelled to state, though she is ''sorry to have thus to destroy certain illusions.''
'There are some fashions, however, which she will attack, such as that of hats under Louis XVI, when the Duchesse de Chartres appeared at the opera with a headgear consisting of a model of her son, the Duke of Beaulolais, in his nurse's arms, a parrot pecking at cherries and a ''nigger'' boy. The whole being built up on her hair into what was called ''pouf a sentiments,'' the sentiments being inspired by Jean Jacques Rousseau.
'Mme. Marthe Regnier also rejects some fashions of today in hats and in attenuated gowns. ''We must not bow to fashion: we must lead it,'' is her daring remark: and she adds, judiciously, that her motto is ''Simplicity, with a note of originality.'''
(Oakland Tribune, Oakland, California, Sunday, 23 January 1910, p. 5c)

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