top of page
Vintage Organ


Gilda Gray.jpg

Oh, hello ducky! It’s me, Gilda Gray, the shimmy queen of the Jazz Age. Let me tell you about my wild ride through the flapper era.

I was born as Marianna Michalska in Krakow, Poland in 1899, but I quickly made my way to the United States and began performing as a dancer in the 1910s. However, it wasn’t until the 1920s that I really came into my own as a flapper icon. I was known for my signature dance move, the “shimmy,” which involved shaking my shoulders and hips in a way that drove men wild. They called me the “Queen of the Shimmy” and I certainly lived up to that title, performing in speakeasies and cabarets all over New York City.

But it wasn’t just my shimmy that made me famous. I was a true flapper through and through, always dressed in the latest fashions with plenty of feathers, fringe, and beads. I had a wicked

sense of humor and loved to flirt with the boys, but I also had a fierce independence and refused to be tied down by any man. I even wrote a song called “I’m Just a Jitterbug” that became a hit on the radio.

Life wasn’t all fun and games though. During WW2 my fame and resources helped me fundraise for the liberation of Poland. Working with the underground, I assisted in smuggling six Polish citizens from danger to freedom, a feat that got me honorable recognition from my home country.

My flapper persona was larger than life, and I embraced it fully. I was always pushing boundaries and testing limits, but I did it all with a sense of fun and joy that inspired others to do the same. I may have been known for my shimmy, but I was also a trailblazer who helped define the flapper era and set the stage for the women’s liberation movement that would come later.

So there you have it, dollface – the story of Gilda Gray, the shimmy queen of the flapper era!

Free Library of Philadelphia. (2017, October 24). “A Dance and a Headdress:All About Gilda Gray” blog post. Free Library Blog.

University of Arizona. (n.d.). Vaudeville in Tucson.

bottom of page