Rigolboche, French can can dancer and Parisian celebrity, circa 1864

August 17, 2013

Rigolboche (née Marguerite Emélie Badel, 1842-1920), French can can dancer and Parisian celebrity
(photo: Pierre Petit & Trinquart, Paris, circa 1864)

An American report falsely stating that Rigolboche had died, Boston, 1866
‘MADEMOISELLE RIGOLBOCHE, the toast of the Paris cafés two or three years ago, is dead. This girl excited a similar sensation to that which Thérésa, the songstress, has recently made. The print-shops of Paris were crowded by beardless boys and moustachioed men in search of her photograph, taken in every conceivable attitude. The book-shops exhibited ”Mémoires de Rigolboche,” with portraits of the danseuse in various positions; and a mad volume of illustrations bearing the title of ”La Rigolbochomanie, Croquis Lithographiques Charègraphiques, par Charles Vernier,” was issued by the publisher of Charivari. In this last work, all Paris is pictured as having gone made with a desire to imitate the steps and twisting of the favorite of the Château des Fleurs and La Jardin Mabille. The name became a rage, and everything was called after her: thus there were cravats à la Rigolboche, Rigolboche boots, Rigolboche gloves, and a score of other things. As the dancer ceased to attract, the books about her became waste paper, and the poor creature died in the ward of a public hospital, and was buried in the Fosse Commune.’
(Every Saturday: A Journal of Choice Reading, Boston, Massachusetts, 5 May 1866, p. 504a)

‘Rigolboche n’était pas belle, mais elle dansait comme un ange – en rupture d’Eden. Elle avait une élégance! Une témérité! une souplesse de reins d’un risqué! des effets de bras d’une extravacance! des effets … oh! des effets de jambes surtout! des effets de jambes incendiaries à en faire voir trente-six chandelles à la Morale. Une Fanny Essler canaille, quoi!’
(Alfred Delvau, Les Lions du Jour, Physionomies Parisiennes, Paris, 1867, pp. 183-184)


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