American Vaudeville Museum

All material © 1998-2011 American Museum of Vaudeville, Inc.  Page 32

Eva Tanguay

1878 — 1947

She was vaudeville’s most popular headliner from shortly after 1900 until the late 1920s. Tanguay and big-time vaudeville faded together. No other vaudevillian was as consistently as high paid as she. No one was better known from coast-to-coast.

Her costumes were nearly as outlandish as her offstage behavior, but onstage she worked very hard for nearly a half hour of frenzied singing and strutting. She knew she wasn’t conventionally beautiful, could not sing or dance well or act, but no one radiated personality to compare with Eva. She was the New Woman before social commentators thought of the term. She offered fun, sex appeal and a finger to the snoot at society’s conventions.