L a - b e a u t é - s a u v e r a - l e - m o n d e ~ D o s t o ï e v s k i

L a - b e a u t é - s a u v e r a - l e - m o n d e  ~  D o s t o ï e v s k i



Saturday, June 27, 2015

The Sisters G


Publicity photograph for "God's Gift to Women", 1931.

During the Twenties and nudging a little ways into the Thirties there was a vogue for sister/twin dancing/singing/showgirl duos. Usually lavishly costumed and quite often sporting the dark, shellacked bob we've come to identify, almost exclusively, with Louise Brooks. Of course the legendary Hungarian-American identical twin Dolly Sisters were the first and most famous; they hit the Ziegfeld stage in 1911 at the age of eighteen. Their enormous popularity on both continents ensured that there would be similar acts joyfully following in their footsteps: the Pearl Twins, the Dodge Sisters, the Fairbanks Twins, even the Norwegian brothers who performed an outright impersonation of Rosie and Jenny Dolly and went by the name of the Rocky Twins. (With so may pairs of performers working the same look, when looking for images, it can be tough to tell one from the other.) Perhaps the best known "followers" of the twin Hungarians were Karla and Eleanor Gutchrlein, who performed as the Sisters G.

Photograph by Achille Volpe.

That said, I can tell you almost nothing about them. They appear to have been born in the Netherlands in 1910, twins but apparently not identical. They were billed as German in Hollywood, where they made one "short" and made appearances in four feature films in 1930 and 1931: King of Jazz, Recaptured Love, Kiss Me Again, and God's Gift to Women. With rapidly changing tastes in film during the period, musicals were suddenly out, and their lavish dance number in the last film was cut. With it, so too went the Gutchrlein's Hollywood career. Other than that, I haven't been able to find out anything. I really think that rather sad; we have to leave them at the age of twenty-one.

Photographed by Atelier d'Ora, this must have been taken before they came to America.
Likewise these two photographs from the Viennese Atelier Manassé.
An inscribed copy of the same photograph.
Again the same photograph, now used to publicize their first film "King of Jazz". Little if any of their bio is to be believed.
This and the following four images were also used as publicity for the film.
"King of Jazz" is an all-color - two-strip Technicolor - musical revue, starring popular bandleader Paul Whiteman and his orchestra.
The Sisters G are not included in the credits at the beginning of the film, but are featured in three musical numbers.
With Paul Whiteman.
In costume for "Kiss Me Again".  Like "King of Jazz", this film was originally shot in early two-strip Technicolor.
I have no idea what these images are about, but they look to have been reproduced in a periodical.
Two screen-shots from "God's Gift to Women", with (just visible at left) Louise Brooks, Frank Fay, and Joan Blondell.
Ironically, Louise Brooks - at far left - is sans her famous bangs; the Sisters G are more "Brooks" than Brooks.
Karla Gutchrlein in publicity for "God's Gift to Women"; she's wearing the same dress as above.

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The Sisters G make the briefest of their three appearances in "King of Jazz" in the "Happy Feet" number, which features the Rhythm Boys, including Bing Crosby. Eleanor and Karla sing a verse of the song - starting a little after the one minute mark - part of it in German (?), and then do a very short, rather acrobatic dance.





13 comments:

  1. While I can see modern descendants like Japan's Peanuts as well as Pink Lady and even a recent phenomenon like the Cheeky Girls, having a context for them is illuminating. Thanks for sharing this interesting showbiz sidebar.

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  2. Fascinating photographs. They put me in mind of the two girls in yellow who Nick Carroway encounters at one of Jay Gatsby's lavish parties in "The Great Gatsby". They turn out to be a sister act and do their number on the dance floor for the party goers.

    I wonder whatever became of the Sisters G?

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    1. They evidently ended up in Sweden, where they married Swedish citizens. They left the states about 1932. Their mother Margarete Gutohrlein, founded some kind of charitable village for orphaned children.
      I got curious after I saw the King of Jazz - they seem to have fallen off the face of the earth after the movie. My sense - there is an interesting story here.

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    2. Thank you so much, Ian! Yes, a very interesting story waiting to be told. : )

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    3. Nice pictures. I knew them both well.

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    4. Karla and Eleanor where born in Germany. The third sister Inez too. All three danced together until Inez got married very young. Karla and Eleanor came to Sweden in the 30:s and also performed here. Inez stayed in Germnay. Eleanor married my mothers cousin so I got to know them well.

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    5. Thank you so very much for the information, Lina! So they remained in Sweden, then? I hope they had happy lives. As I said above, they just vanish - both images and story - from the historical record when they were both so young. Any other information you'd like to share with us would be most appreciated. Again, thank you!

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    6. Yes, Karla and Eleanor stayd in Sweden for the rest of their lives. They had long lifes too. They shared the pictures but not much about the dancing. Eleanor told me some and Karla too but very little. One remark from Eleanor: Charlie Chaplin wanted the sisters in some movie but mother said no because all his women (mother said). They had different lives but they stayed close all sisters through all their lifes. Inez have two children, one in USA and one in Germany, Karla have two childern one in USA and one in Norway. I was close to Eleanor espacially for her last five years. She lived in the same city as me and my family, Göteborg, and Karla lived in Stockholm. They performed in Liseberg (amusement park in Göteborg) 1934 but I have a picture from 1942 with a dress I also have seen. I have music from that time that I now will give back to the Liseberg park. I do believe they where happy most of the time even if they also had parts in life that was not happy.I guess as the rest of the population. I will always remember them deep in my hart with love and thank them for all the good times.

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    7. Thank you so very much, Lina! I'm so happy and very touched to read this. It's so beautiful that you could reach out and give us more of their story, to let us know that they didn't just "disappear", but had long, full lives. I appreciate this so much, Lina. : )

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  3. Hi, nice to see the pictures. I knew them both.

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  4. Thank you Lina, for your wonderful historical insights! Do you have any photographs?

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  5. More info: Today I met the man in charge of the archives at Liseberg Park, Guthenbourg. G-sisters as they also called them selves preformed, as I said 1934, but also 1942 at the Liseberg for two weeks. I will, soon, come with at least two pictures taken 1942.

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    1. That would be lovely, Lina! You aren't able to post pictures in the comments, here. But if you want to email them to me, I can add them. I didn't want to include my email address here, so I sent it to you on Google+. (I - never - use Google+, and I'm not sure I did it right, so I hope you get the message....)

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