A Hop, A Frock, A Hairdo: Irene Castle and her Lady Networks of Theatrical Business

Nic Leonhardt


Focusing on American dancer/ performer Irene Castle (1893-1869) and following the merchandising strategies and aesthetic and societal impact of her widely discussed short haircut, her costumes, and her dancing school, this paper aims at describing and disentangling the tight network of theatrical and popular entertainment, economy, and urbanity in the 1910s. Through an interdisciplinary approach and with a focus on a limited time frame of five years (1910-1915), the paper discusses various strands, agents, contact zones and business strategies that are part and parcel of this network. Next to Irene Castle, two female theatre professionals are of particular interest here: costume designer Lady Duff Gordon (1863-1935) and theatrical agent Elizabeth Marbury (1856-1933).

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Popular Entertainment Studies ISSN 1837-9303