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From the desk of Alison Gibson, Director
We want to share this wonderful postcard of the Gayety Theatre with our readers. This long-gone building was at the corner of Second and Market—where the laundry mat is now. Prior to the Gayety, it was the New York Theatre and originally the building was a church. It became the Gayety in the spring of 1915 when F.E. Boyd and Billy Maddox took it over and changed the name. They lowered and slanted the floor and changed the chairs to opera style and let the public know that both movies and ‘real’ features will be shown. It remained the Gayety until 1931.
We looked in the Ripley Bee to see what was showing around this time of year, so the November 24 1915 choice was Neptune’s Daughter starring Annette Kellerman, “the perfect woman” in this spectacular film. Parts were filmed in the Bahamas and had a cast of hundreds. The cost to produce this film was $50,000.00 and grossed over $1,000.000.00. This was a silent film, the plot being the daughter of King Neptune takes on human form to avenge the death of her young sister, who was caught in a fishing net. However, she falls in love with the king, the man she holds responsible for her sister’s death.
We were intrigued—who was Annette Kellerman (1887-1975) and why was she ‘the perfect woman’? Born in Australia, born with weak legs requiring steel braces, her parents enrolled her in swimming classes. By age 13, her legs were nearly normal and she was competing in swimming and diving sports. In 1902,She broke the record for 100 yards and competed in mile championships. Still a teenager, she started doing a mermaid act, swimming with fish in a glass tank. Annette popularized the sport of synchronized swimming. She also advocated for the right of women to wear a one-piece bathing suit instead of the cumbersome pantaloon/dress combination of the day. She starred in many movies, mostly with an aquatic theme (pre Ester Williams), often made her own costumes, dove into pools with crocodiles as well as diving from 92 feet high.
Annette advocated healthy living, even owned a health food store in California. Still, why was she called ‘the perfect woman’? In 1908, Dudley A. Sargent of Harvard University studied 3,000 women, and Annette was deemed the closest match to the ancient Greek statue Venus de Milo.
A reminder—next Friday, December 9th will be the Village tree lighting on the library lawn at 5:30 p.m. then over to the annex for the book sale as well as light refreshments and music. Book sale will also be open on Saturday, December 10th. Hope to see you there!