28 January 2012

Sepia Saturday 110: "Give my Regards to Broadway"

Winter Garden (Right Front); Library of Congress
Mira Rockwell Main made several trips to New York City in 1913 and 1914; some were visits with family and others nursing assignments. The wealthy hired a private nurse to provide personal medical care in their homes. Mira enjoyed the opportunity these visits gave her to attend concerts and plays.

Mira had a preference for opera attending Madame Butterfly on Thursday,  January 22, 1914. In subsequent weeks, Mira went to several performances at Carnegie Hall and the Opera House. Her February 10, 1914 entry was a departure from the norm, "Went to Winter Garden in the evening with Loretta." No raptures of delight or scathing reviews? What did Mira hear at the Winter Garden Theater?

Ragtime Arabian Nights
Lillian Lorraine
Clearly not Opera, The Whirl of the World was a musical revue composed by Sigmund Romburg - his first theatrical score. "Ragtime Arabian Nights" was one of the few pieces that attained acclaim. The musical review was soundly criticized by most of the newspapers of the day. "The beauty of the production is Miss Lillian Lorraine, who wears her many magnificent costumes with the immodesty for which she is deservedly famous. It is always to be regretted that Miss Lorraine finds it necessary to sing .... " Many more critical reviews can be found in Lillian Lorraine: The Life and Times of a Ziegfeld Diva.
Viewing the key sheets (below), I wonder what Mira thought of the performance. Did her mind wander to think of her fiance back in Massachusetts? Charles was certainly missing her. When Mira returned home, Charles picked her up at the train station. Soon after a date was set for their wedding.

The whirl of the world keyshee... Digital ID: g99f493_002. New York Public Library
Click here for link to larger view
The whirl of the world keyshee... Digital ID: g99f493_003. New York Public Library
Click here for link to larger view
"Whisper of how I'm yearning to mingle with the old time throng; Give my regards to old Broadway and say that I'll be there ere long." - George M. Cohan

This virtual tour has me yearning to visit New York City; Mama Mia! is now playing at the Winter Garden. For more virtual theatrical performances, see Sepia Saturday 110.

"Broadway north from 38th St., New York City, showing Winter Garden, Maxine Elliott's, Casino, and Knickerbocker Theatres" digital image, Library of Congress, Prints and Photographs Online Catalog (http://www.loc.gov/pictures/item/2003689020/ : accessed 24 January 2012).

"The Whirl of the World Keysheets (1914)." NYPL Digital Gallery. (http://digitalgallery.nypl.org/nypldigital/ : accessed 24 January 2012).

Hanson, Nils. Lillian Lorraine: The Life and Times of a Ziegfeld Diva. Jefferson, North Carolina: McFArland, 2011, p. 18. Quote from a New York Critic.

Stratton, Mira Rockwell (Main). "Line-a-Day Diary." MS.  Lee, Massachusetts, 1913-1923.  Privately held by Liz Stratton, [ADDRESS FOR PERSONAL USE,] Cincinnati, Ohio. 2011.

Wikipedia. "Give My Regards to Broadway" Rev. 13:47, 31 August 2011.

Wikipedia. "Lillian Lorraine," 22 August 2012, citing Lillian Lorriane image, Theatre Magazine, 1909. Wikipedia citation of the image is incomplete. The image is in the public domain.

Updated: 13 September 2012, fixed broken photograph link.


  1. A lovely glimpse into Mira's evening out. And what a funny little review of the show.

  2. The dress that lady is wearing is almost turning her into a mummy - I wonder how she walked? LOL

  3. She wouldn't have been able to run in that dress to get away from the critics. Great digital images at the end.

  4. That’s quite the hourglass figure Lillian has! The review made me smile though, and it sounds as though Mira may have been justified in letting her mind wander.

  5. What an interesting post! I love the still shots from The Whirl of the World. This is the second great shot I have seen from the NYPL online site this week. What a great resource.

  6. I was thinking the same thing about that dress! Her voice must have been pretty bad.

  7. I was also thinking that dress reminded me of a mummy and wondering if she was able to walk in it. It looks like it would have to be wound up after she was in position.

  8. Quite the dress and quite the figure to go with it! I guess good looks and a good figure didn't outweigh bad singing.

  9. Old this was a very magical read....stunning photos too!...I don't think she tried running in that dress ever, just lean back and appear so pretty right!

  10. What a fascinating post. That first view is stunning, especially with the streetcars. I can just envision Mira going off to the opera. As for Miss Lorraine...her figure is pretty phenomenal, can't say about the voice.

  11. A great focus on the golden days of NYC. The variety of entertainment and the thrill of the crowds must have been a real thrill.

  12. I can't believe you managed to post this masterpiece while in Utah! Perfect in every way -- and I love the ragtime music!

    1. I've been wanting to go to NYC with Mira since reading her diary. This prompt gave me the chance. I did most of it before leaving - there is definitely no time to do much of anything but research here!

  13. She Deserved To Be A Star With A Frock Like That!

  14. Spectacular post! Love the view of the city street and the lady in the mermaid dress. Sorry I'm late in my visit.

    Take care,

    Kathy M.


Comments welcome!