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Dorothy Jardon

February 4, 2013

Dorothy Jardon (1883?-1966)
American actress and singer,
as Bimoula in Oh! Oh! Delphine!,
Shaftesbury Theatre, London, 18 February 1913
(photo: Foulsham & Banfield, London, 1913)

Dorothy Jardon first came to notice in a number of Broadway musicals, her first appearances being in The-Merry-Go-Round (Circle, 25 April 1908), which featured the song ‘Stupid Mr. Cupid’ by Theodore M. Morse and her first husband, the lyricist Edward Madden; Lew M. Fields’s The Yankee Girl (Herald Square, 10 February 1910); and others. Following a visit to London in 1913, during which she played Bimboula, a Persian carpet seller, in Oh! Oh! Delphine! (Shaftesbury, 18 February 1913), Miss Jardon returned to Broadway until 1915, her last musical being Papa’s Darling (New Amsterdam, 2 November 1914), after which she toured successfully in vaudeville.

* * * * * * * *

‘Miss Dorothy Jardon, who will be the headliner at the Orpheum next week, is a musical comedy star of international importance. She was one of the successes of Oh! Oh! Delphine! a musical play produced in England at the Shaftesbury theatre, London, in 1913. Of her performance as Bimboula, a Persian carpet merchant, prominent British dramatic writers said:
‘London, Era – “Dorothy Jardon’s Bimboula will be talked about. Not only is she endowed with beauty and Oriental grace, but she is able to suggest the sly humor that underlies the part. She sings, too, with culture.”
Daily Graphic – “A wonderful triumph of personality was won by Dorothy Jardon, a newcomer to England, who established herself at once as a sort pf ‘raging favorite.”
St. James’s Gazette – “The Persian Bimboula of Dorothy Jardon was one of the triumphs of the production.”
‘Of her performance in New York at the American production of Oh! Oh! Delphine! Actor Davies said: “There was Dorothy Jardon – among the better things. She was the bright spot yesterday. She looked beautiful and she seemed happy.” Her voice is of the best quality and is as rare as old wine. It may be many a day before her fine performance in Madame Sherry and the various Winter Garden shows are forgotten, and her engagements in vaudeville will be looked forward to with pleasure.’
(Manitoba Free Press, Winnipeg, Manitoba, Saturday, 22 January 1916, Editorial Section, p.20b)

Dorothy Jardon

Dorothy Jardon featured on the song sheet cover of
Roy Barton’s ‘Novelette’, published by Will Rossiter, Chicago, 1917
(photo: unknown, USA, probably 1917)

The Orpheum, Denver, April 1917.
‘The Orpheum bill as reviewed by the Denver News is as follows:
‘The audience at the Orpheum yesterday afternoon reached the pinnacle of patriotism. It rose as one man in salute to a red, white and blue skirt worn by Miss Dorothy Jardon and stood for several seconds in silent tribute.
‘Enthusiasm was rampant during Miss Jardon’s number. They ovated her beautiful voice, they ovated her marvelous costumes, they ovated her Valeska Suratty air (and hair), they ovated her accompanist. If all her audiences act like that one, life for Miss Jardon is one ovation after another.
‘This review would be devoted to the stunning Dorothy who is so richly endowed vocally and sartorially if Beatrice Herford were not on the same bill. Miss Herford is billed as a “society entertainer.”’
(The Lincoln Daily Star, Lincoln, Nebraska, Sunday, 15 April 1917, News and Editorial section, p.6b/c)

B.F. Keith’s, Washington, June 1917.
‘Dorothy Jardon deserves the honors bestowed upon her by the Keith management. She has a really wonderful voice, knows how to use it, and has the stage presence that enables a singer to obtain the proper effects for vocal numbers. Miss Jardon was given almost as great an ovation last night as she received on Saturday evening at Fort Myer. Her singing of Tosti’s “Good-By” and the cigarette song from Carmen were the most popular numbers in her well-chosen repertory. The choice of songs which this singer makes, however, is of little consequence to music lovers who will recognise at once in Miss Jardon’s voice all of the clarity, flexibility and splendid power that have distinguished less gifted artists on the operatic stage.’
(The Washington Post, Washington, D.C., Tuesday, 12 June 1917, p.8b)

Dorothy Jardon, described as a dramatic soprano, made a number of recordings, being under contract during the early 1920s to Brunswick, for whom she made, among others, Tosti’s ‘Goodbye’, Lohr’s ‘Little Grey Home in the West’ and Mascagni’s famous air from Cavalleria Rusticana. Long before that, however, when she was in London during 1913, she recorded the Venus waltz from Oh! Oh! Delphine! for the HMV label (03326, London, 11 March 1913). After touring the United States in vaudeville the First World War, Miss Jardon joined the Chicago Opera Company with which she fulfilled two of a five year contract.

‘Dorothy Jardon, Once a Star of the Chicago Opera Company, Says That to Succeed There a Voice Is Not Needed, But One Does Require a “Pull” …
‘Dorothy Jardon, Who Says That Art is Not Art in America But a Matter of Politics and Dollars and Cents.
‘The latest fighting in this world of fighting comes in a recent jaw-to-jaw bout between two notable and beauteous ladies. They are not empresses patriotically defending their empires against each other, these highly graced combatants, nor aspirants to the female heavyweight championship. Rather they are queens of a loftier world than those of politics and prizefighting, of a kingdom of intellect and aesthetics and of art. They are two prima donnas of opera: the ever-to-be famous Mary Garden and the bright-voiced Dorothy Jardon. Nevertheless, for all their exaltation in the skies of beauty, they have treated themselves to a little set-to such as might seem more appropriate to the home or the halls of Congress… .
‘In speaking of her own relations with the Chicago organization Miss Jardon remarked that she had had a five-year contract and had cancelled the last three years of it because she realized when Maestro Campanini died that her future was all behind her.
‘“In my first season I had a sensational success. My debut at the Lexington opera house in New York, in 1919, was all that could be desired. Every one wondered why I didn’t sing there again when the Chicago Opera company had a big run. They were all mystified, but I kept my own counsel. I couldn’t come out and tell them why. I had no one to stand back of me or come to my defense in a controversy of this sort. I had to let all my friends do the guessing. The same thing that happened to Mme. Ganna Walska happened to me – politics and jealousy in the organization… .’
(Syracuse Herald, Syracuse, New York, Sunday, 20 February 1921, Magazine Section, p.5)

Following her retirement in 1927 Dorothy Jardon married Captain Harry Oelrichs, son of Charles M. Oelrichs of Newport, and a nephew of Mrs William K. Vanderbilt. Her first husband, Edward Madden died in 1952, leaving her the bulk of his estate. She died in Los Angeles at the age of 83 on 30 September 1966.

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