Born on 12 January 1884 in Waco, Mary Louise Cecilia "Texas" Guinan played a gun-slinger and rode bareback in silent films, took New York by storm in 1906, and earned a salary of $700,000 as a speakeasy hostess. Here are highlights from a life led at full speed until 5 November 1933. Meet TEXAS GUINAN!

Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Texas Guinan: Julia Hoyt

Broadway actress JULIA HOYT, who was a regular at all the TEXAS GUINAN nightspots, died at age 58 on Hallowe'en: 31 October 1955.

• • Hoping to advance her stage career, Julia Hoyt hooked up with debonair leading man LOUIS CALHERN [1895-1956], whom she met when both were cast in a 1927 drama The Dark, which had a brief run at the Lyceum Theatre. Hoyt and Calhern were seen together often at Texas Guinan's during their short-lived marriage [1927-1932].
• • Louis Calhern played "Madden" - - a character based on Texas Guinan's friend Owney Madden - - in "Night After Night." He had one scene in it. Starring MAE WEST and GEORGE RAFT, the film opened at the Paramount Theatre on 31 October 1932.
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• • Illustration: Julia Hoyt • • 1921 • •

Texas Guinan.

Sunday, October 29, 2006

Texas Guinan: Jay Hunt

TEXAS GUINAN starred in "My Lady Robin Hood" [1919].
• • The storyline of this silent film was centered - - as you might expect - - on a female bandit with a heart of gold who steals from gamblers and gives to a poor family with a crippled daughter.
• • This was the final film directed by Jay Hunt, who was 64 years old when he worked with Texas Guinan. Born in Philadelphia on 4 August 1855, Jay Hunt died in Los Angeles on 18 November 1932.
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• • Illustration: "My Lady Robin Hood" • • 1919 • •

Texas Guinan.

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

Texas Guinan & the Undead

Since October 31st is All Hallows Eve, it is the season to highlight Texas Guinan's fascination with the occult, the unseen, and the undead. When she was 42 years old, Texas Guinan met Rudolph Valentino [6 May 1895 — 23 August 1926] at her brother's nightspot.

• • It was Sunday 25 July 1926 when Texas Guinan met Valentino at Tommy Guinan's speakeasy. Larger than the average ginmill, The Playground was on West 52nd Street (east of Broadway). Its generous square footage made it ideal for events and James R. Quirk, editor-publisher of
Photoplay, hosted a Reception in honor of Valentino's new silent movie "Son of the Sheik" there. When Photoplay first began publication, Quirk's staff had included handsome Julian Johnson, Texas's lover.
• • Mae West and Texas Guinan were there to greet the Apulian heartthrob. No doubt Texas fancied Jadaan, a superb Arabian stallion Valentino had ridden in this melodrama. An expert equestrienne herself, the following year Texas would ride an Arabian stallion into the Shubert Theatre at the start of "
Padlocks of 1927."

• • Maybe Mae West was charmed more by the Italian stallion himself — — and piqued by the abrupt end to his life that occurred one month later when the actor was only 31. Something about Rudy impressed Mae, encouraging her to think that he could link her to the unquiet dead up and down Times Square.
• • According to Whitney Bolton, a columnist for the
Philadelphia Inquirer, a week after the Italian-born actor Rudolph Valentino died [1895-1926], Mae West and her friend Texas Guinan arranged for a séance in a Manhattan loft. Suspicious that the 31-year-old heartthrob was secretly poisoned by a rival, Mae summoned an Italian Medium to officiate. At the table sitting opposite Mae were Texas, her brother Tommy Guinan, and the gangster Owney Madden who owned The Cotton Club, a man remembered more for violence than his spiritual side.
• • And the rendezvous with Rudolph in 1926 must have been memorable because two years later Mae was holding séances in the smoking room of the Royale Theatre to communicate again with him. Visiting New York to see “
Diamond Lil” on Broadway, the actor Jean Hersholt was invited backstage and yanked into a darkened room where a Medium was channeling Caruso and Valentino. Hersholt recalled that Rudy called upon Mae and said: “Mae, you have a lot of enemies and don’t trust any of them.”
• • During the 1920s, Texas Guinan continued to host séances in her nightspots — — especially in Club Abbey on West 54th Street. It was easy for Mae West to attend these sessions, too, since she lived right upstairs.
• • To stay in touch with the other side, Texas Guinan also regularly attended St. Joseph's, a Roman Catholic Church on Sixth Avenue in Greenwich Village.

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• • Illustration: Valentino and "Son of the Sheik" • • 1926 • •

Texas Guinan.

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Saturday, October 21, 2006

Texas Guinan on Houston

She's back and Houston's got her! There is only one place to be on Monday, 4 December 2006 and that is on West Houston Street. TEXAS GUINAN reigns as screen queen on that date. The entire month of December is when Film Forum will show their series "Fox Before the Code" when Prohibition Era classics will roll.

• • On December 4th, Film Forum presents "BROADWAY THRU A KEYHOLE" [1933, directed by Lowell Sherman].
• • Plot: Constance Cummings is befriended by protection racket boss Paul Kelly, but eventually falls for an actual Bing Crosby rival Russ Columbo. Ripped from Walter Winchell’s column — and Al Jolson socked him over the (supposed) parallels to his romance with Ruby Keeler — with vaudeville star Blossom Seeley and legendary speakeasy hostess Texas Guinan (“Hello, suckers!”).
• • “Far from wholesome.” – NY Times.
• • Bonus: Fox “Magic Carpet of Movietone” short "Broadway By Day"
• • Film Forum is located at 209 W. Houston Street, between 6th Avenue & Varick, in New York City.
• • Box Office: 212-727-8110 (2 FILMS FOR 1 ADMISSION)
• • Tell them you heard about it from
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• • illustration: a film based on true events that took place at Texas Guinan's nightspots • • Broadway through a Keyhole • • 1933 • •

Texas Guinan.

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Texas Guinan by Kesslere

Oh, to be kissed by Kesslere — — to be made love to by his lens. In those bygone days of "fixed focus," an ambitious camera king like George Maillard Kesslere could (and did) make his mark by snapping theatrical types as well as Park Avenue "royalty" and bluebloods.
• • Born in 1894, George Maillard Kesslere had set up a showy photo studio on East 50th Street by the early 1920s. During his long career, the lensman took pictures of
TEXAS GUINAN, Tommy Guinan, Mae West, Franklin D. Roosevelt and his wife Eleanor, Charlie Chaplin, Walter Damrosch, Arturo Toscanini, Beatrice Lillie, Rudy Vallee, Tallulah Bankhead, Alexander Woolcott, William H. Paley, Gertrude Lawrence, Charles Laughton, Helen Hayes, Jascha Heifetz, Admiral Richard E. Byrd, Marlon Brando, etc.
• • During Prohibition, his paintings were also attracting eyes and buyers. Kesslere's sassy canvasses for
Earl Carroll's Vanities were published in the very early 1930s. Theatre-owner and producer Earl Carroll was a regular at Texas Guinan's nightspots.
• • In 1927
TEXAS GUINAN had a premiere of her revue Padlocks of 1927, and George Maillard Kesslere photographed Texas Guinan before the show opened.
• • One promotional picture appeared in The New York Times on 8 May 1927. In the Times, Texas is in the same garb as in this studio portrait, where she posed with her beloved mother Bessie and her frisky kid brother Tommy Guinan.
• • In 1952, the lifelong bachelor (who had resided on East 62nd Street for many decades) donated the G. Maillard Kesslere Collection of 6,000 photographs and 500 paintings to the New York Public Library for its permanent theatre collection. That's a well-kept secret. Kesslere's sister Hazel was his sole survivor when he died at age 84 on 1 January 1979 in a nursing home in Cresskill, NJ.

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• • photo: Texas Guinan with mother Bessie and brother Tommy • • by G.M. Kesslere • • 1927 • •

Texas Guinan.

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Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Texas Guinan: Eddie Cantor

When artist Wynn Holcomb sketched the interior of the TEXAS GUINAN CLUB in 1927, he positioned the speakeasy queen's regular customers around the various tables.

• • This detail shows the comedian when he was 35 and starring on Broadway in the Ziegfeld Follies of 1927. The hit opened at the New Amsterdam Theatre on 16 August 1927 and ran for 167 performances. By the time the show shuttered on 7 January 1927, it had also made the newcomer Ruth Etting a star.
• • Claire Luce (who worked for Texas Guinan) was also in this revue.
• • Born on the Lower Eastside of New York on 31 January 1982, Eddie Cantor was an American comedian, singer, actor, songwriter, and one of the most popular entertainers in the USA in the early and middle 20th century. He was known to Broadway, radio, and early television audiences as "Banjo Eyes" and "the Apostle of Pep", and was regarded by millions as "a member of the family" because of his intimate radio shows that involved stories and antics about his wife, Ida, and his five daughters.
• • Eddie Cantor died in October [10 October 1964]. He is being remembered this month as a hard-working performer, a humanitarian, and a person Texas Guinan enjoyed.
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• • illustration: Texas Guinan's friend • • Eddie Cantor • • 1927 • •

Texas Guinan.

Sunday, October 15, 2006

Texas Guinan: Rose Rolando

When artist Wynn Holcomb sketched the interior of the TEXAS GUINAN CLUB in 1927, he positioned the speakeasy queen's favorites close to her central figure.
• • This detail shows the Broadway dancer-choreographer ROSE ROLANDO, a vivacious beauty whose performances onstage would send theatre critics into fits of ecstatic adjectives.
• • Born in Los Angeles as Rosemond Cowan, Rose's dancing feet led her into Lorenz Hart and Richard Rodgers popular musical "Garrick's Gaieties" — — which ran for 212 performances. Rose Rolando opened Act II with a number called "Rancho Mexicana." Perhaps that was Rose's way of flirting with the Mexican set designer, artist Miguel Covarrubias [1904-1957].
• • Drawn into the theatre circle by his relationship with this dark-eyed dancer, Covarrubias pursued celebrity caricature. The New Yorker asked him to sketch MAE WEST. His drawing of "Diamond Lil" (now in the Smithsonian) appeared in their 5 May 1928 issue.
• • Rose Rolando was photographed by Edward Weston, Max Eastman, and Man Ray. Diego Rivera and Miguel Covarrubias were two of many artists who painted her.
• • After years of living together in Greenwich Village, the pair married in 1930.
• • The couple collaborated on several books, documenting their travels to Bali and elsewhere.
• • Covarrubias, an illustrated volume about their fascinating life — — and their notable friendships — — was published in 1994 by the University of Texas Press. After leaving the Rialto behind, Rose became an accomplished photographer, writer, and artist.

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• • photo: Texas Guinan's friend • • Rose Rolando • • 1920s • •

Texas Guinan.

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Friday, October 13, 2006

Texas Guinan's Moon-Maid

October, the month of the Harvest Moon, is a perfect time to commemorate a very close friend of Texas Guinan: Nora Bayes.
• • The Harvest Moon is always the first full moon after the Autumnal Equinox. It rose this year on October 6th.

• • The oldest recorded MOON song of this century, and the most popular of all the lunar tunes, is "Shine On Harvest Moon" written in 1903 by Nora Bayes and Jack Norworth. [Note: The original sheet music of this song is owned by Sir Paul McCartney.]
• • Requested often at night clubs run by Texas Guinan, this chart-topper, Ruth Etting's trademark tune, was sung by many vocalists and has been beamed into the soundtrack of dozens of films including "A Tree Grows in Brooklyn."
• • YouTube features Oliver Hardy singing "Shine on Harvest Moon."
• • CHORUS • •
Shine on, shine on harvest moon
Up in the sky,
I ain't had no lovin'
Since January, February, June or July
Snow time ain't no time to stay
Outdoors and spoon,
So shine on, shine on harvest moon,
For me and my gal.

• • In 1944, a more-fiction-than-fact film was released: Shine On, Harvest Moon. By then, Nora was long dead. In March 1928, she died suddenly, at age 48, in a Brooklyn hospital after cancer surgery. Jack Norworth and his ambitious new missus managed to get a screenplay produced that glorifies his achievements, while downplaying Nora's phenomenal career - - non-stop success that began in 1899 when the charismatic beauty was 19 years old.
• • MOVIE PLOT - - Complete with a final production number filmed in Technicolor, this tuneful musical depicts the highly fictive ups and downs of fabled vaudeville headliners Jack Norworth [1879-1959] and Nora Bayes [1880-1928]. After rejecting a partnership with songstress Blanche Mallory (Irene Manning), Jack Norworth (Dennis Morgan) discovers Nora Bayes (Ann Sheridan), who is wasting her considerable vocal talents by working in a honkytonk. Jack convinces the girl to become his partner . . . . blah-blah-blah. Despite setbacks, the talented husband-and-wife duo finagles an engagement with the 1907 edition of the Ziegfeld Follies and vows the audiences with Jack's newest composition, the lilting "Shine on Harvest Moon."
• • In reality, in 1903 Jack Norworth met the already quite famous 23-year-old singing comedienne Nora Bayes at the office of a music publisher. In 1908, Jack Norworth became one of her five husbands, and moved into her house [624 West End Avenue].
• • Texas Guinan was stricken with grief at her friend's untimely demise. Nora Bayes deserves more space here, and she will get it. Meanwhile, Texas Guinan says: Shine on, shine on, dear harvest moon-maid.
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• • photo: Texas Guinan's friend • • Nora Bayes • • 1912 • •

Texas Guinan.

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Wednesday, October 11, 2006

Once in Love with Aimee

Of course, it's time to commemorate a woman admired by Texas Guinan on her birthday in October.
Aimee Semple McPherson [9 October 1890 –– 27 September 1944], also known as "Sister Aimee" or simply "Sister," was an evangelist and media sensation in the 1920s and 1930s; she was also the founder of the Foursquare Church.
• • McPherson had started out as a Salvation Army worker.
• • Aimee McPherson spent four years [1918-1922] as an itinerant Pentecostal preacher, finally settling with her mother in Los Angeles, California, and founding the Foursquare Gospel church. She supervised construction of a large, domed church building in the Echo Park area of Los Angeles, and it was completed in June 1923. Named Angelus Temple, it had a seating capacity of over 5,000.
• • When Aimee Semple McPherson, the famous Evangelist (with marcel-waved hair) from Los Angeles visited New York in 1927, she insisted on visiting Texas Guinan's club.
• • Texas welcomed McPherson and the two formed a sort of mutual admiration society. It was a promotional dream - - two gals of Irish descent in different types of show business. Aimee thanked Texas and invited her to her Glad Tidings Tabernacle the next day. Texas and her chorus girls showed up (before going to work), to the astonishment of everyone.
• • At the time, women in the pulpit ministry were rare — — those who wore makeup and jewelry in the pulpit, nonexistent. McPherson's uniqueness in this respect, her flamboyance and her unashamed use of low-key sex appeal to attract converts, endeared her to her crowd of followers in Los Angeles. She would invariably appear before parishioners in a white gown, carrying a bouquet of flowers.
• • On 27 September 1944 she was found dead of an overdose of prescription barbiturates.
• • Photo of Texas Guinan and Aimee Semple McPherson [1927] from Texas Guinan: Queen of the Nightclubs by Louise Berliner
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• • photo: Texas Guinan • • Aimee Semple McPherson • • 1927 • •

Texas Guinan.

Sunday, October 08, 2006

Meet Texas Guinan Tuesday

The Waco Tribune Herald, Texas Guinan's hometown newspaper, printed an intriguing item on Sunday - - 8 October 2006.

Reporter Terri Jo Ryan, Tribune-Herald staffwriter, highlighted this upcoming event featuring Texas food, history, and local personalities - - and we already know a few.
• • Pizza proprietor and educator Mary Duty envisions Waco history in terms of restaurants, taverns, and tales swapped over soup, beer, Mexican food. . . and pizza.
• • “Restaurants kind of tell the story of a town,” Mary Duty said. “Look at Waco’s famous Klaras family. Pete Klaras was a Greek immigrant who had this popular café on the Square and fed many Americans through the Depression. The story is he kept a bowl of soup on at all times.” To ensure that hungry but penniless customers retained their pride, they were invited to have soup and sign a ledger agreeing to an I.O.U. [though it seems that Klaras never expected poverty-stricken people to made good on their face-saving promise].
• • Such history is part of a unique local event this week in Waco, Texas. If you’ve ever fancied enjoying pizza with 1920s speakeasy queen Texas Guinan or munching eggrolls with Waco’s pistol-packin’ publisher William Cowper Brann, you shouldn't miss this chance.
• • At the “Taste of Waco History” offering set from 5:00 - 7:30 p.m. on Tuesday [October 10th], some of the most famous characters of Six Shooter Junction’s colorful past will rub elbows with mere mortals enjoying food and beverages at the Waco History Project’s major fundraiser.
• • Snobby Tours is providing living history re-enactors to ferry folks to famous sites around town. Three 30-minute tours have been scheduled and will depart from the parking lot of Nelson’s, 414 Franklin Ave. The first begins shortly after 5 p.m.
• • Other “spirits” invited to the party include Sul Ross, early Texas Ranger, governor of Texas and president of Texas A&M; Alf Neill, the first Waco police officer killed in the line of duty; Estella Maxey, musical entertainer; Madison Cooper, author of Sironia, Texas; and Scottish settler Neil McLennan, for whom the county is named.
• • Organizers have dubbed the event “Meet Me at Hamburger Pete’s.”
• • Mary Duty, treasurer of the Waco History Project, said each of the participating restaurants has a unique history. . . .
• • Admission tickets — - which include food, beverage and motorcoach tour - — can be purchased at the Tribune-Herald, 900 Franklin Avenue or the Historic Waco Foundation, 810 S. Fourth Street.
• • Published: Sunday 8 October 2006
• • Source: Terri Jo Ryan -
Waco Tribune Tel: 254-757-5746 - - URL:
Toll-free: 800-678-8742
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• • photo: Texas Guinan • • 1928 • •

Texas Guinan.

Friday, October 06, 2006

15 Minutes with a Hot Blonde

New York City's Fire Patrol was on stand-by the evening of August 17th, 2006.

Reason: they heard that vixenish vocalist MARNIE BAUMER was in Greenwich Village, doing her "Mae West Medley" at the ANNUAL MAE WEST GALA. Well, things got really hot when the boa-toting beauty took the floor to treat the crowd to "My Old Flame," "A Guy What Takes His Time," and "Frankie and Johnny."
• • George, the muscle-bound bodyguard who accompanies Texas Guinan everywhere, swore that the blonde Baumer's performance was not unlike a three-alarm-blaze. (Hey, sucker! Where were YOU on August 17th, huh?)

• • Party guests at Village Restaurant, happily feasting on a Roaring 20s menu specially prepared by chef Stephen Lyle, also were enjoying the exhibition "ONSTAGE OUTLAWS: Mae West and Texas Guinan in a Lawless Era."
• • Veteran reporter Jules Peimer covered the ANNUAL MAE WEST GALA for 15 Minutes Magazine. This is his coverage.
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• • photo: Marnie Baumer and LindaAnn Loschiavo • • courtesy of Jules Peimer and 15 Minutes Magazine • •

Texas Guinan.

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Wednesday, October 04, 2006

Texas Guinan: Snakes & Sam

Enjoy a glimpse of Texas Guinan from someone who knew her.
• • Samuel Marx had a long career in the entertainment industry.

When he was in his 20s, while he was covering the nightlife scene for newspapers, Marx frequented several clubs run by Texas Guinan and her brother Tommy. He used this insider's knowledge to pen a sweet little tell-all: Texas Guinan: The Ace of (Night) Clubs [released 1 January 1929, 30 pages].
• • Here is an excerpt from Little Blue Book No. 1446 [Publisher: Haldeman-Julius Publications].
• • • • • • Headlining at the club, at present, is a girl {Nerida} who does a dance while entwined with a live six-foot cobra. It is weird and ghastly.

This same girl had been dismissed from the Frivolity Club. Waiters complained that people ordered less food when the snake was on. Texas doesn't care. She likes the act.
• • Heywood Broun, noted writer, once devoted his entire "It Seems to Me" column in the Scripps-Howard newspapers to that snake dance. At the bottom, Broun wittily closed with the line that "if there isn't any snake at the Guinan Club, I'm on the water wagon from now on!"
• • Jeanne Williams - - who was later to fool Hollywood with a Russian accent and the name of Sonia Karlov - - was a dancer at the old El Fey Club. Ruby Keeler, who later married Al Jolson [in 1928], was a fixture with Texas as a tap-dancer for many seasons. Dottie Wilson, a beautiful little blonde dancer, left Texas to wed a millionaire Clevelander. Among old standbys of Texas - - who started with her and are still be her side - - are Drina [sic] Beach, who dances an exotic routine clad in a leopard skin, and Kitty O'Riley, a "tough" Irish girl entertainer.
• • The show at Texas Guinan's is not like the ordinary revue in any other Broadway cabaret. . . .
[Note: Drena Beach danced in the Broadway revue Padlocks of 1927 [Shubert Theatre, July - September 1927.]
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• • photo: Texas Guinan • • 1928 • •

Texas Guinan.

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Tuesday, October 03, 2006

Texas Guinan on WEAF 1922

This story begins during the Roaring 20s with Bruce Reynolds, a popular actor and lecturer, who told it to the columnist Ben Gross.

• • One morning in 1922, Bruce Reynolds saw an ad in the New York Times announcing that A.T.&T. was "considering" the acceptance of advertising on its radio station WEAF.
• • "I rushed downtown to the station and made them an audacious proposal," Bruce said. "I offered to buy all of WEAF's commercial time. They said they would consider it and, in the meanwhile, they'd be willing to sell me some fifteen-minute segments for one hundred dollars each. So I raced about the city trying to interest manufacturers and merchants in going on the radio but most of them laughed at me.
• • "Finally, however, I succeeded in signing Coty's Perfume, United Cigar Stores, Bossert Houses, and several others. I made many thousands on the resale of time and broadcast four or five different products every night. It was a real bonanza."
• • Then A.T.&T. complained. Its officials said Reynolds' straight sales talks were too blatant. "Be more subtle," they suggested, "so that the listeners won't realize it's advertising."
• • "As a result," Bruce continued, "I hired people with big names, such as Texas Guinan, to deliver the talks and to be more 'subtle' about it. But again the WEAF management said too many listeners were protesting and they finally put me off the air."
• • Now Bruce made the rounds of other stations, among them WOR. The Bamberger executives were horrified at his proposal. "Never!" one of them exclaimed. "We wouldn't prostitute our station by accepting outside advertising!" . . .
Source: I Looked and I Listened by Ben Gross [1954]
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• • photo: Texas • •

Texas Guinan.