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.





4 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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