American Vaudeville Museum

All material © 1998-2012 American Museum of Vaudeville, Inc.  Page 41

Gaby Deslys

1881 – 1920

Gaby was one of the fabulous creatures of the stage during La Belle Époque/the Edwardian era—like La Belle Otero, Isadora Duncan, Anna Held, Lillian Russell, Maud Allan and Sarah Bernhardt. They lived and behaved extravagantly; their lives a whirlwind of ostentatious fashion, romances, displays of temperament and whispers of scandal, all of which upset accepted codes of public behavior and garnered publicity.

Gaby’s career began modestly enough as a chorus dancer, but gossip of her romance with King Manuel of Portugal turned her into a star attraction. An international star, Gaby dance, sang and exhibited her blonde beauty in a series of Shubert shows, performing with Harry Pilcer as her dance partner. She made a few silent films and, during the First World War, entertained French troops and aided orphans. She died of a poorly attended throat tumor at age 38, leaving a small fortune on money and jewels.