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Vintage Organ

GILDA GRAY

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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. https://libwww.freelibrary.org/blog/post/3110

University of Arizona. (n.d.). Vaudeville in Tucson. https://vaudeville.sites.arizona.edu/node/34

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