Sunday, 1 June 2014

The Dodge Sister - Cabaret Twins

Here we have a forgotten act from the cabaret and revue scene of the late 1920's - the twins Betty and Beth "The Dodge Sister". Surprising such a minor act has inspired any art at all - but they did. Starting with my old favourite Frank Martin. They had their five minutes of fame and faded in an instant - but their lasting legacy can still be found.

 "The Dosge Sisters" - etching by Frank Martin (1921-2005)

The Dodge Sisters, Betty and Beth were American born dancers and cabaret stars, working from c1925 until 1930. The earliest reference to them was found in the "Warsaw Daily Times and The Northern Indianian" from July 1926, with an advert for the Centennial Theatre's Vaudeville show featuring "The Dodge Trio. Timely tunes and steps. The Dodge Sisters have been a sensation on the coast for the past fourteen weeks"

From small time in Indiana, they made their way to Europe, appearing in a number of revues and stageshows. Including C B Cochran’s 1926 cabaret Supper time at the Trocadero. This 1927 portrait was taken whilst they were in the George and Ira Gershwin musical Oh Kay at His Majesty's Theatre in London.

The Sisters then toured the Continent to great critical acclaim performing at the Haller in Berlin and at the Folies Bergères, Paris in 1928. James Abbe, George Hurrell and George Hoyningen-Huene also photographed them. The photograph on the right was taken by the photographer Bassano.

 After returning to Amercia, they made their cinematic debut in a MGM revue entitled,"The March of Time” and they also appeared on Broadway in “A Night in Venice” in 1929. They were well known enough to appear in magazine adverts endorsing “Chesterfield Cigarettes” with the slogan “The Dodge Sisters are a prefect team – each brings the best out of other” and seen in The Pittsburgh Press (Sept 1929) advertsing "Jelke Good Luck Margarine" "An expensive spread" with the caption "The twins, Beth and Betty Dodge, dancers incomparable of A Night in Venice, now nightly packing the Schubert Theatre, New York. To watch them is to wonder whether one is not merely a mirrored reflection of the other"

To see them singing and dancing - visit to see perform the "The Lock Step" dance !! in Technicolour. As shown on the left in a publicity postcard.

 The beginning of the end of the partnership seem to have been the marriage of Beth to Clarence Stroud in 1930. He was one half of another Vaudeville dancing twins; "The Stroud Brothers". Weirdly his brother Claude had recently divorced from Thelma White, another twin. To read all about it in The Milwaukee Sentinel - Click Here. Some pictures too.

Finally it was sad to see from a reference in the New York Times, May 1931, that the Sisters had to file for bankruptcy, with the headline "Actresses in Bankrputcy; Dodge Twins list $4,863 liabilities and no unpledged assests."

This photograph is from a series of cigarette cards, titled "Beauties" issued by Hignett Bros & Co, England in their CHESS brand. So we could find some art but not much - beautiful girls and lovely photographs. I wonder what happened to them ? did the marriage last or was it just a publicity stunt to revive interest in their act ?
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