In this chapter from his 1932 book, Times Square Tintypes, Broadway columnist Sidney Skolsky profiles stage actress Eva Le Gallienne.
IN GOD’S IMAGE
EVA LE GALLIENNE was born January 11, 1899, as the Bow bells of London were tolling seven. She is five feet four and weighs 128 pounds.
Her father is Richard Le Gallienne, the poet. Her mother, Julie Norregaard, a journalist. After they separated she went to Paris with her mother. Lived there until the age of thirteen, when she returned to London and enrolled in Sir Herbert Beerbohm Tree‘s Academy. It was here that Lyall Swete saw her and presently she made her London début in The Laughter of Fools.
At an affair she always requests the orchestra to play a tango.
She sews well. Love to iron her shirtwaists.
Left England for America to play in The Laughter of Fools for David Belasco. After two weeks of rehearsals the play was shelved.
Likes very sheer stockings and suéde shoes. Wears suéde gloves, always making it a point to buy them a size too large.
Her first appearance on the American stage was with Harrison Grey Fiske in Mrs. Boltay’s Daughter. Richard Le Gallienne, who hadn’t seen her since she was three, attended a performance. She had the rôle of a colored maid. Mr. Le Gallienne on seeing her exclaimed: “My God! Is that my daughter?”
She plays the piano, the guitar (gypsy and Spanish), the harp and the piccolo.
The members of her theatrical troupe call her “Saint Eva.” On the opening night of a play she sends every woman in the company a box of flowers. Every man receives a gardenia.
Her suits are short, while her evening dresses sweep the floor.
Whenever she goes to the theater she insists upon sitting in the first row.
Seldom touches hard liquor. Her taste is for wines. Prefers French cooking to any other style and eats almost a basketful of fruit a day. She adores ripe figs.
When eleven years old she made a copy of Mme. Bernhardt‘s memoirs in longhand. It required two volumes and a year’s labor. When Sarah Bernhardt heard of this she asked to see her and wrote a tribute on the flyleaf of the first volume. A copy of this now hangs in Miss Le Gallienne’s dressing room.
Her favorite cultivated flower is the camellia. She loves to pick wild flowers.
Has a wonderful collection of antique jewelry. Always wears earrings. One of her choice possessions is a cross made of emeralds. She wears this dangling from a silver chain which girdles her black velvet evening gown.
She owns a car and operates it herself. She gets a big kick out of driving in traffic.
Always wears a Russian turban in winter and a velvet tam, gray or black, in summer. She has one large black felt hat that she wears when she’s really going out. She has had the same Russian marmot coat for the past fourteen years. It has never been remodeled.
She admires Mrs. Fiske tremendously.
She likes long hair. Her own is bobbed because she has to wear a wig in almost every play. All her wigs are imported from France.
Show Boat she considers the best musical she ever saw. Is very fond of modern composers. Continually plays Gershwin’s “Rhapsody in Blue” on the piano. Also plays a record of it.
The only sweet she reaches for is Martzepan. This is a candy made of almond paste.
She speaks, reads and writes English, French, German, Russian and Danish fluently. Converses in Spanish and Italian and knows enough Greek for use in reference work.
Her home is decorated with toy animal ornaments.
She has a direct telephone from her dressing room to her apartment. From her dressing room to the box office and from her apartment to the box office
Is very proud of the fact that Mrs. Herbert Hoover visited her recently backstage.
Her two favorite colors are violet and blue. Always manages to wear something blue. The dressing rooms at the theater are painted blue. Her apartment is painted blue. her personal stationery is blue. Her auto is blue. The color of her eyes is blue.
She is an expert fencer. Her teacher is always imploring her to desert the stage and take up fencing seriously. He honestly believes she could become the champion woman fencer of the world.
She is a member of the Girl Scouts of America.