Ella Wesner, male impersonator

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    Accession Number: 1981:4078:0016

    Maker: Napoleon Sarony (1821-1896)

    Title: Ella Wesner, male impersonator

    Date: ca. 1880

    Medium: albumen print


    George Eastman House Collection

    General – information about the George Eastman House Photography Collection is available at www.eastmanhouse.org/inc/collections/photography.php.

    For information on obtaining reproductions go to: www.eastmanhouse.org/flickr/index.php?pid=198140780016.

    Tom Ackroyd, Archival Clothing, and 111 other people added this photo to their favorites.

    1. striatic 74 months ago | reply

      Ella Wesner (1841 - 1917) male impersonator.

      Ella Wesner started in showbiz as a ballet girl. She was Annie Hindle's dresser for a while which enabled her to learn the tricks of male impersonation. She was very popular in the 1880s. Like Hindle she recycled British Music Hall material for American audiences. Her best remembered act was as a tipsy dude getting a shave. Some found her act rather coarse or dubious, but this contributed to its masculinity. She never married and seems to have preferred female lovers. Her only reported romance was with Josie Mansfield, the notorious mistress of crooked financier Jim Fisk. After Fisk was shot by another of Josie's lovers, Edward Stokes, Ella and Josie went to Paris and presided over a salon at the Café Américan. Ella asked to be buried in her male costume. Laurence Senelick. The Changing Room: Sex, Drag and Theatre. Gender in performance. London, New York: Routledge, xvi, 540pp. 2000: 331.

    2. LeenerBeener91 74 months ago | reply

      that is SO interesting!

    3. m.moormann 73 months ago | reply

      Wow, great collections!!

    4. flowerchild99 29 months ago | reply

      I share utter love for this picture and all its meaning. I personally think its great! :0)

    5. PhotoBeautyArtist 10 months ago | reply

      I am betting she was a sharp cookie in real life. Women had to live by their wits and make a living if they weren't married. I wonder what her act was like?

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