Posts Tagged ‘broadway chorus girls’

A Broadway chorus girl gets away with murder

June 27, 2011

Of course, Nan Patterson, a pretty chorus girl in the 1900 smash Broadway hit Florodora and daughter of a Treasury Department bigwig, insisted she didn’t kill her married boyfriend, gambler Caesar Young.

But the evidence against her was strong.

On the morning of June 4, 1904, Nan and Caesar were taking a hansom cab to a Hudson River pier where Caesar and his wife were to board a transatlantic ship.

At West Broadway and Franklin Street, a shot rang out from the cab. Caesar lay dying in Nan’s lap, a bullet in his chest.

Nan told police Caesar shot himself, upset that she was leaving him. The cops said no way: the bullet entered Caesar from an angle not compatible with suicide. And anyway, Caesar’s gun was found in his pocket.

Arrested for murder, Nan’s sensational trial attracted a ton of media interest and resulted in two hung juries. In the end, she went free.

“The prosecutor concluded that no jury would unanimously believe that such a sweet young thing could commit so brutal a crime,” writes Patrick M. Wall in The Annals of Manhattan Crime.

[Photo: Bain News Service; Floradora program cover, 1900]

A socialite jumps to her death over Central Park

April 9, 2011

Dorothy Hale resembled so many other young girls who move to New York: she was beautiful and had ambitions to become an actress.

So the 16-year-old from Pittsburgh made her way here in 1919, where she got work as a chorus girl, then a Ziegfeld girl.

By the late 1920s she had married a painter and was socializing with artists, writers, and actors, befriending Frida Kahlo and Clare Booth Luce.

Her life seemed charmed, until 1931, when her husband died. Left with financial troubles, she tried to find acting jobs—or find another husband.

She dated a string of notable men: sculptor Isamu Noguchi, FDR adviser Harry Hopkins, financier Bernard Baruch. But nothing panned out.

She found a way out. The night of October 20, 1938, Hale hosted glitzy guests at her Hampshire House pad on Central Park South.

She attended the theater with Mr. and Mrs. J.P. Morgan, then hit up a party at the 21 Club.

Back home at Hampshire House, she spent the early hours of October 21 typing goodbye letters to friends.

At about 5 a.m., she plunged from her 16th floor window.

“When her body crashed to the sidewalk,” reported The New York Times, Mrs. Hale was still wearing [her] black velvet gown.”

In 1939, Frida Kahlo painted Hale falling out of Hampshire House, still in her black dress.