MISS SPINELLY | TRUE ICON OF THE ROARING TWENTIES | PART 2

Si intravedono segnali di un ritorno agli anni '20 del secolo scorso. Quindi, se così dev'essere, che sia fatto con stile.

Signs of a Roaring Twenties' revival are in the air. It's fine by us, so let's do it with style.


1920s | Mlle Spinelly
Photo by Madame d'Ora
Source: Kunsthaus Lempertz

Andrée Spinelly (1 maggio 1887- 25 luglio 1966), o più semplicemente, Mademoiselle Spinelly, era il nome d'arte di Elisa Berthelot, poi Fournier a seguito del matrimonio della madre nel 1904 [1]. Fu una fantasista francese, forse di origine italiana (in base a quanto affermava parte della stampa dell epoca [2]), molto affermata negli anni Venti e Trenta del XIX secolo.

Lasciò molto presto la famiglia per tentare la carriera teatrale [3] e, dopo un debutto di successo nel 1905 a diciotto anni in Les Petites Laripelle [4], divenne celebre in Europa ed America come protagonista di operette (Mamzelle Pantalon, 1906; Le cochon qui sommeille, 1918) e "music-hall", cantante, ballerina e soprattutto attrice teatrale (fra le numerosissime rappresentazioni: Le Tango del 1913; Le bel ange vint, 1922; Beauté, 1930; L’amant perdu, 1930).


Andrée Spinelly (May, 1 1887 - July, 25 1966), or simply Mademoiselle Spinelly, was the stage name of Elisa Berthelot, then Fournier after her mother's marriage in 1904 [1]. Of Italian origin, according to a part of the press of the time [2], she was a French variety artist, very famous in the 20s and 30s of the nineteenth century.

She left the family very young to pursue a theatrical career [3] and, after her striking début, when she was 18 years old in "Les Petites Laripelle" (1905) [4], she became known in Europe and America as a star of operettas (Le cochon qui sommeille - 1918) and music hall. She was a singer, a dancer and, above all, a stage actress (among the many titles: Le Tango, 1913; Le Bel Ange Vint, 1922; Beauté, 1930; L’amant Perdu, 1930).



1930 | Spinelly plays Kiki at the Maipo Theatre (Buenos Aires)
Source: Maipo Theatre

1923 | Mlle Spinelly and Adrien Le Gallo in "Ma Dame de compagnie"
Source: Les Modes


L’attività cinematografica di Mlle Spinelly fu il punto di arrivo della sua carriera, ma portò trionfi minori e concentrati in poche pellicole con ruoli sempre meno da protagonista tra il 1931 ed il 1948, anno in cui Spinelly si ritirò a Etche Spi, la sua residenza a Bidart, nei bassi Pirenei. [5]

“Idylle au Caire” (1933), "Un fil à la patte" (Al guinzaglio di Eva, 1934), “Les Nuits moscovites” (1934), “Boissière” (1937) e l'ultimo "Suzanne et ses brigands" furono i titoli e prima di questi i maggiori successi: "La châtelaine du Liban" (La castellana del Libano, 1933) e soprattutto il primo film, "L'Amour à l'américaine"(1931), nel quale Spinelly, nei panni di una capricciosa miliardaria americana, metteva a dura prova la virtù coniugale di un francese (André Luguet), scoprendo le sue celebrate gambe in un ballo sulle note del Foxtrot Fantastique! di Ray Ventura e mostrandoglisi in vesti provocanti.



Mlle Spinelly’s film activity was the culmination of her career, but it brought her only minor triumphs; spanning from 1931 to 1948 with few highlights and less and less starring roles. Spinelly retired in 1948 to Etche Spi, her residence in Bidart, in the Low Pyrenees. [5]

Her filmography includes “Idylle au Caire” (1933), "Un fil à la patte" (1934), “Les Nuits moscovites” (1934), “Boissière” (1937) and "Suzanne et ses brigands", her last movie. Worth of note is the blockbuster - if you will - "The Chatelaine du Liban" (1933) and her film debut, "L'Amour à l'américaine"(1931). In the latter Spinelly, starring as a capricious American billionaire, challenged the marital virtue of a Frenchman (André Luguet), uncovering her celebrated legs in a dance on the foxtrot music Fantastique! by Ray Ventura and showing herself in provocative clothes.


1931 | Spinelly and André Luguet in L'amour à l'Américaine

Clockwise from top left

1931 | L'amour à l'Américaine
 1933 |  La châtelaine du Liban
1934 | Un fil à la patte
 1937 | Boissière


Fu amica di moltissimi artisti dell’epoca, fra i quali Mistinguett, Colette, Maurice Chevalier (che aveva debuttato giovanissimo affiancando proprio Spinelly negli spettacoli da caffè concerto), Tino Rossi. Fu protagonista delle cronache mondane per le sue vicende extra teatrali tra cui varie cause civili [6] e la relazione con l'attore Raimu (fu lei a lanciarlo facendolo lavorare al suo fianco in Plus ça change nel 1915 ) [7]; oppure quella con il romanziere Pierre Benoît, conosciuto per le riprese de La châtelaine du Liban nel 1931, tratto da un suo romanzo (nel '33 si parlò di un loro matrimonio e fu forse per lui che Spinelly si trasferì definitivamente nei Pirenei, dove lui viveva) [8]; e soprattutto quella con un ereditiere sudamericano (probabilmente Ernesto, figlio del banchiere Manuel Trigueros) dal quale ebbe il figlio Manuel nel 1923, finendo parodiata in scena nell'atto "Nursery théâtrale" della pièce “Extra-Dry” al teatro Le Cigale [9]. Poco dopo Spinelly fu lasciata dal giovane, che era stato richiamato all'ordine in sudamerica dalla famiglia, contraria alla relazione.

Her friends were many contemporary artists of the time; among them: Mistinguett, Colette, Maurice Chevalier (who was very young when debuted with Spinelly’s music-hall shows), Tino Rossi. She often took center stage in gossip columns because her extra-theatrical activities, including numerous civil cases [6] and her prolonged affair with the actor Raimu (she promoted him in "Plus ça change", 1915) [7]. Under the glass eye was her relationship with the novelist Pierre Benoît, known during the filming of La châtelaine du Liban in 1931, based on his novel (in 1933 there were rumors of a marriage and maybe Spinelly moved definitively to Pyrenees because he lived there too) [8]and likewise, the love story with a young South American heir  - likely Ernesto Trigueros, son of the banker Manuel Trigueros - with whom she had a son, Manuel in 1923 (the relationship was parodied in the act "Nursery théâtrale" of the play "Extra Dry" at the theater Le Cigale [9]. Shortly after, Spinelly was left by the young man, who had been called back to South America by the disapproving family.


1926 | Mlle Spinelly with her three years old son
Source: Philadelphia PA Inquirer


1933 | La châtelaine du Liban

Attrice di grande successo, Spinelly era celebratissima dalla critica del tempo per la notevole presenza scenica, per la sinuosità nella danza, per il suo "acidulo" modo di cantare e in gran parte anche per le sue doti di verve e simpatia. Un segno di originalità fu quando, nel 1913, anziché da un avvocato, si fece rappresentare dall’autore di commedie brillanti Paul Gavault in un processo al quale era stata chiamata dal direttore di un teatro per cui aveva rifiutato una messa in scena e riuscì a vincere la causa. [10]

Being a very successful actress, Spinelly was celebrated by critics for the remarkable stage presence, her sinuous dancing style, her "sour" way of singing and also for her verve and sympathy. A 1913 episode explains her peculiar style: in a court of law against a theatre' director, she decided to be represented by Paul Gavault - a comedies' author - and not by a lawyer. She was brought before the judge because she had rejected a performance. Of course she won. [10]


INTRODUCING MISS SPINELLY | TRUE ICON OF THE ROARING '20S
FEAT. ANDRE PERUGIA
| PART 1 |

MISS SPINELLY | TRUE ICON OF THE ROARING '20S
FEAT. ANDRE PERUGIA
| PART 3 |

MISS SPINELLY | TRUE ICON OF THE ROARING '20S
| PART 4 |

MISS SPINELLY | TRUE ICON OF THE ROARING '20S
| PART 5 |



FOOTNOTES

1. Andrée Spinelly birth certificate from the French Wikipedia entry. 

2. Le Courrier Français, Oct. 6, 1906

3.  Le Journal, Jan 7, 1911

4. Le tout-théâtre – 1905

5. In 1945, after the liberation of Paris from the Nazis, Spinelly was jailed on charges of collaborating. In all probability, this was the end of her career. Albany NY Times Union,  May 6, 1945 

6. In 1911 there was a court case for her breach of contract the year before against the director of Le Cigale. She considered obscene a few scenes of the comedy «Tu peux le dire», but actually she was already booked for another show (Comoedia 17/6/1911 ). And the same year she went to court for a 1907 breach of contract with the Moulin Rouge. (Le Journal, Jul. 7, 1911)

In 1927 she sued M.me Octave D’Ora, a famous photographer, who had sold to the Austrian magazine “Die Bühne” a naked picture of Spinelly, taken some years before for private use (The American Weekly, Magazine section of the Syracuse American, June 12, 1927).

Another recurrent reason of legal disputes where her properties. In 1927 she brought to court the Princesse de Colloredo-Mansfeld to quickly close the rental contract of her property in avenue Charles-Floquet in Paris (Comoedia, May 17, 1927). In 1932 it was the turn of Mr. Victor Frederick William Cavendish-Bentinck, First Secretary of the British Embassy in Paris and tenant of two floors of her palace. She sued him because he refused to pay the rent on account of the uninterrupted noise coming from the apartment above him, Spinelly's own apartment, by the way. (Albany NY Times Union, June 19, 1932)

7. Isabelle Nohain-Raimu, Raimu, un grand enfant de genie, Le Cherche Midi, 2014

8. Gérard de Cortanze, Pierre Benoit: Le romancier paradoxal, – Albin Michel 2012

9. La Presse, Jun 12, 1923

10. Comoedia, May 10, 1913


 

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