Julian Eltinge

Definition

Theater

  • (William Dalton; 1881 - 1941) US actor who became the mostfamous female impersonator of his day. Eltinge specializedin playing glamorous women in extravagant gowns but his most popularsketch was one in which he appeared as a bathing beauty. Offstage,Eltinge tried hard - perhaps too hard - to quash rumours that he was gay, engaging in such ostentatiously 'manly' pursuits as boxing, cigar smoking, and brawling in bars.

    Eltinge first appeared in drag at the age of 10 with the BostonCadets but his first professional success came in 1905 with the musicalMr Wix of Wickham. He subsequently toured with a minstrel Showbefore winning great acclaim in the dual roles of Hal Blake and MrsMonte in The Fascinating Widow (1910), a musical comedy writtenespecially for him. He starred in musicals and vaudeville throughout the1920s, made a few silent films, and effectively retired in 1930. Althoughby now badly overweight and a heavy drinker, he made a brief comeback in1940 in Billy Rose's Diamond Horseshoe Jubilee; his death isthought by some to have been suicide.

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