Chorus girl

Chorus girl
   The life of the chorus girl was a topic regularly explored in the press of the modernist era. Many stage-struck young women saw it as a means of entrée into the theatre, but most would drop out quickly while others advanced to speaking roles. Thus there was constant turnover in the chorus. A chorus girl interviewed for the Kansas City Evening Star (8 March 1888) explained, "managers when they make up a chorus want fresh, good looking women. They don't care so much for the voice. Any girl with a tolerable fair voice will do, so she's got a good form and a pretty face. Chorus music is generally simple and one or two principals carry it anyhow, so that part is not hard." Although the chorus got its costumes furnished by the management, other aspects of the life were difficult: "If anything happens or the troupe smashes up the chorus girls are always the ones to suffer. A manager will pay his leading people if he possibly can, because they would advertise him and ruin him in his business if he didn't, but if he breaks up little he cares whether the poor chorus girls have a dollar or not." She added, "Three or four seasons are apt to spoil a chorus-girl pretty badly unless she takes care. The late hours and travel and hard work all tell . . . When a girl gets past 26 she may as well think of doing something else for a living." Thus it is not surprising that "a famine of chorus girls" was reported 12 years later in a story (Kansas City World, 20 September 1900) about how managers were having trouble filling the ranks.
   By 1908, there was a movement to ease the chorus girl's difficulties by creating club homes for impecunious chorus girls in cities like Boston, Chicago, and New York. Philadelphia's Cushman Club House for Chorus Girls was a three-story building in a good part of town, supported by local philanthropies. Conditions improved over the years, as indicated by Walter Winchell's comments in Vanity Fair (reported by the Kansas City Star, 6 January 1928): "The chorus girl has become one of America's most glamorous figures. There is a certain aura about her. She is definitely not as scarlet as she is painted." Extolling the chorus girl's brains as well as beauty, Winchell credited her ability to get "everything out of life that can be derived from it."

The Historical Dictionary of the American Theater. .

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Look at other dictionaries:

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  • chorus girl — ► NOUN ▪ a young woman who sings or dances in the chorus of a musical …   English terms dictionary

  • chorus girl — n a woman who sings and dances with a large group of other women and men in a show or film …   Dictionary of contemporary English

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