Saturday, April 26, 2014

Flo Ziegfeld's Girl: Anna Held




Born in Warsaw, Poland, to a Jewish family, Anna Held often headlined the Folies-Bergere. Later, Held would claim Paris as her birthplace, shave a few years off her age and convert to Catholicism upon her marriage to a Uruguayan playboy, Maximo Carrera. With Carrera, Held had a daughter named Liane. In 1896, Held met Florenz Ziegfeld when he hired her to be in one of his productions. By 1897 the two were in love and despite being able to legally marry (her first husband would not grant her a divorce) they were, after seven years, considered husband and wife by virtue of New York’s common law. It was Held who inspired the ‘Ziegfeld Follies’. In 1918, Held died at the age of 46 from multiple myeloma, a rare disease at the time. Her funeral took place at Campbell’s in NYC and was well attended by stars of the era, save for Ziegfeld who abhorred funerals. Held’s “Empire-Style” burial site, boasts a stone arch and two benches. Purchased for her by actress Lillian Russell, Held’s funeral was one of the first to take place in Westchester’s Gate of Heaven Cemetery. She was memorialized by Carl Sandburg in his poem, An Electric Sign Goes Dark.

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