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Did Tonnesen Photograph a Ziegfeld Girl?

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"The model in this circa 1919 photo by Tonnesen is believed to have been Eva Grady (1899-1934), a Ziegfeld Follies dancer. The original photo is owned by the Winneconne (WI) Historical Society. I have this image as a color print on a 1921 calendar.

It appears to me that Ziegfeld Follies dancer Eva Grady, sometimes known professionally as Eva Brady, appeared in some of Beatrice Tonnesen’s work ca. 1918-20.  Of course, barring documentation from someone associated with either the model or Tonnesen herself, I’m never completely certain about these things.  But here’s how I came to believe that Tonnesen photographed one of Ziegfeld’s glamorous performers.

From about 1915 until about 1920 or so, fashion shows, known then as “style shows,” were very popular in Chicago and in communities throughout the mid-west.  I’ve discovered that photos of some of the era’s top artist models, including some whom I believe posed for Tonnesen, as well as famed illustrators such as Henry Hutt, Zula Kenyon, C. Allan Gilbert and others, can be found in the press coverage attendant to these events. A Chicago-based troupe of models would tour the mid-west, modeling each season’s fashions amid much fanfare including lavish parades, talent shows and speeches by local dignitaries. The events often lasted for several days, with daily, photo-filled newspaper features trumpeting them.  Several months ago, while searching an online newspaper archive, I came across an item in the September 27, 1919 issue of the Fort Wayne Journal Gazette titled “Fort Wayne’s Great 1919 Style Show.”  Beneath the headline were photos of three of the featured models.  Two of them were models I’d seen and read about before – Adelyne Slavik and Mae Burns – women I believe to have modeled for Tonnesen.  The third model was identified as “Eva McGrady”, and though I’d never run across her name before, her face looked familiar!  She looked to me exactly like the woman gazing from a framed portrait that sat on a table in a 1920 photo I’d seen of Beatrice Tonnesen’s studio.  A follow-up story on the Fort Wayne Style Show corrected the model’s name to “Eva Grady.”  I routinely made a note of both names, attached it to the corresponding Tonnesen photo in my files and forgot all about Eva Grady.

But then, a few months later, I discovered that another possible Tonnesen model had appeared in a 1920 issue of Theatre Magazine.  Thumbing through the magazine in search of her photo, I came upon a feature about the (then) current Ziegfeld Follies production.  There, identified as “Eva Brady” was the woman I knew as “Eva McGrady/Grady.”  A quick search of the various Ziegfeld websites cleared up the confusion surrounding her names!  Eva Grady hailed from Chicago and danced in the Follies of 1920-22, sometimes under the name Eva Brady.  One site included information that she had previously been an artist model.  As a Ziegfeld Follies girl, she was photographed by the famed Alfred Cheney Johnston, and I found her photo in the book Jazz Age Beauties: The Lost Collection of Ziegfeld Photographer Alfred Cheney Johnston, by Robert Hudovernik (Universe Publishing 2006). Johnston also photographed Eva for a number of ads that appeared in Theatre Magazine.

Census information indicates Eva Grady was born in 1899.  In 1920, she was listed as living in Chicago with her family, including a younger sister, Dorothy.  In 1931, she married Robert Rice Reynolds (1884-1963), who was a U.S. Senator from North Carolina from 1933-1945.  Unfortunately, Eva died in December, 1934, her North Carolina death certificate listing tuberculosis as the cause.

The accompanying slideshow features images from my magazine and calendar collection, as well as some of Tonnesen’s photos for which I believe Eva modeled. I’ll be most interested in any opinions or information our site visitors have to offer!

Shown (L to R): Original black and white photo by Tonnesen from Winneconne Historical Society Collection, scan from the Beatrice Tonnesen Catalog, Album 15; color print by unknown illustrator based on the previous Tonnesen photo- shown on a 1921 calendar; a page from the September 1922 issue of Theatre Magazine showing Eva in fashion photos bottom and right; ad for Bonwit Teller photographed by Alfred Cheney Johnston from October 1920 issue of Theatre Magazine; Eva Brady top left as photographed by Alfred Cheney Johnston, as part of a feature on the Ziegfeld Follies in Theatre Magazine, August 1920; two photos by Tonnesen, both Courtesy Oshkosh Public Museum, Oshkosh WI, All Rights Reserved. (Image with dog is the photo Tonnesen had displayed in her studio.); ad for Dobbs apparel from Spur Magazine, September, 1920, signed Alfred Cheney Johnston.  Ziegfeld website identifies model as Eva Brady/Grady.

Copyright (c) 2010 Lois Emerson

7 thoughts on “Did Tonnesen Photograph a Ziegfeld Girl?

  1. Hi Lois,

    This is a wonderful presentation! Thank you for your research into this matter. I think you might be correct and applaud your great detective work!

    Wonderfully written also. So glad our site was able to provide some help.

    The photos you’ve posted are just lovely!

    Best,
    jane

  2. Hi Jane,\n\nYour Historical Ziegfeld sites were extremely helpful to me as I researched and formed my opinion that Eva Grady/Brady was both a Ziegfeld girl and a Tonnesen model. I also appreciate you and your associate, Vlad, taking a look at these posted images and offering your assessment (that Eva probably did work for both Ziegfeld and Tonnesen). Site visitors who want to learn more about the Ziegfeld Follies and Ziegfeld photographer Alfred Cheney Johnston, and view the absolutely stunning, related vintage images, may visit Historical Ziegfeld at http://ziegfeldgrrl.multiply.com and http://historicalziegfeld.multiply.com. Thanks again.\nLois

  3. Hi Vlad,\nThank you for your kind words and for submitting these images. I had wanted to include the Fort Wayne Journal-Gazette article in our slideshow, but didn’t think it would display well. Your images are great, and I know our visitors will enjoy them! I also appreciate all of the painstaking research and fascinating information you provide on Historical Ziegfeld, http://ziegfeldgrrl.multiply.com and http://historicalziegfeld.multiply.com.\n-Lois

  4. After viewing the documents and images that Lois has found, and looking at the links to the article that Vlad provided, I have no doubt that Eva Brady/Grady and Mae Burns were Tonnesen models. They are clearly recognizable in images in our museum’s collection. Great work Lois.

    Scott Cross
    Archivist
    Oshkosh Public Museum

  5. Hi Scott,\nThanks for taking the time to view and comment on these images. I always appreciate your interest and value your opinions. My own belief is that all three of the women in the image Vlad provided were Tonnesen models. There are a couple of posts on Adelyne Slavik elsewhere on this blog and I plan to add something on Mae Burns soon.\n-Lois