American Vaudeville Museum

All material © 1998-2010 American Museum of Vaudeville, Inc.  Page 4

Elsie Janis

1889 — 1956

During and after the Great War Elsie Janis was lovingly called “The Sweetheart of the AEF (American Expeditionary Forces)” and “The Sweetheart of the Doughboys.” Twenty years earlier, she was known coast to coast as “Little Elsie,” and she was one of vaudeville’s youngest, most beloved and highest paid stars. She had a pleasant voice, was a supple dancer and especially was noted for her impersonations of famous stage stars. In the 1910s she did excellent imitations of the major stars of the day: Alla Nazimova, Ethel Barrymore, Beatrice Lillie, Harry Lauder, Eddie Foy, George M. Cohan, John Barrymore and Will Rogers.

She and vaudeville ended their runs almost simultaneously. After working hard in vaudeville and revue for 35 years, Elsie Janis retired to Hollywood where she lived quietly, wrote for the movies and enjoyed the company of old friends.