The real “Princess Nesmeyana”: a woman who never smiled

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Vaudeville was the most popular form of American entertainment art from the 1880s to the 1930s. These comedic plays with verses and dances became predecessors modern pop culture of the USA. During short skits just for 6-15 minutes, the artists not only engaged in dramatic art, but also performed tricks, performed with animals, told jokes. Each major city in America had its own vaudeville theater.

In New York, the Victoria Theater on the intersection of 42nd Street and 7th Avenue, opened in 1899 by German entrepreneur Oscar Hammerstein. Performances here artists were considered the most inventive, funny and interesting all over the country. One of the most noteworthy entertainment appeared here in the summer of 1907. Viewers presented young a woman named Susan Kelly, who was soon nicknamed Gloomy Sue.

A photo from open sources

The entertainer announced that this lady never laughs or even smiles. To anyone who would make her even smirk, offered a reward of $ 100, which at that time was a solid amount. At first, people from the number of ordinary viewers who went on stage and writhed before Gloomy Sue grimaces, and also told her their best jokes. how it’s easy to guess, it didn’t produce any effect.

Soon, the amount of remuneration was increased to seductive 1000 dollars, and eminent professional pulled into the theater comedians, clowns, circus performers and other third-party artists institutions. They performed in front of Moody Sue on the stage of “Victoria” (free, of course), but Kelly’s mouth has never been trembled. These concerts have become incredibly popular with the public, and the owners of the establishment barely had time to calculate the profit made them so extraordinary numbers.

Among residents and visitors of New York spread various speculations about Gloomy Sue. Some said that the woman was blind and even deaf. However, this was not true, since Kelly freely interacted with others. There were also rumors that Susan’s facial muscles were paralyzed and she couldn’t smile even when she was funny. Finally, some believed that Kelly did not smile from birth or stopped doing it after some kind of tragedy in life.

A photo from open sources

The identity of this woman is still shrouded in a veil of mystery. Is known only that this unmarried lady received from Hammerstein $ 20 a week and led a secluded lifestyle. Other details of her life remain a mystery. Over time, the name of Gloomy Sue became in show business US metaphor for designating viewers who are hard to surprise. American journalists still write from time to time: “The comedian’s performance was so hilarious that it would make laugh even Sullen Sue … ”

Susan Kelly herself was never able to make laugh. True, many researchers of this phenomenon are interested in a deeper the question is why this mystery remained a mystery behind seven seals. Strange, isn’t it? ..

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