ALLA NAZIMOVA

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Alla Nazimova

Signed Album Page - c1936

Signed autograph album page. Boldly signed in pencil, circa 1936.

Alla Nazimova (1879-1945), was a Russian American film and theatre actress, a screenwriter and film producer. She is perhaps best known as simply Nazimova, but also went under the name Alia Nasimoff.

Nazimova's theater career blossomed early; by 1903 she was a major star in Moscow and Saint Petersburg. She toured Europe, including London and Berlin, with her boyfriend Pavel Orlenev, a flamboyant actor and producer. In 1905 they moved to New York City and founded a Russian-language theater on the Lower East Side. The venture was unsuccessful; and Orlenev returned to Russia while Nazimova stayed in New York.

She was signed up by the American producer Henry Miller and made her Broadway debut in New York City, New York, in 1906 to critical and popular success. She quickly became extremely popular (a theater was named after her) and remained a major Broadway star for years, often acting in the plays of Henrik Ibsen and Anton Chekhov. Dorothy Parker described her as the finest Hedda Gabler she had ever seen.

Between the years of 1917 and 1922 Nazimova wielded considerable influence and power in Hollywood. By all accounts she was extremely generous to young actresses in whom she saw talent and became involved with at least some of them romantically. For instance, after meeting a young Patsy Ruth Miller at a Hollywood party, Nazimova assisted in getting Miller's career launched. Another noteworthy example was Anna May Wong, whose first film role at age 14 was as an extra in The Red Lantern. From 1912 to 1925 Nazimova lived in a "lavender marriage" with Charles Bryant, a New York actor.

Nazimova helped start the careers of both of Rudolph Valentino's wives, Jean Acker and Natacha Rambova. Although she was involved in an affair with Acker, it is debated as to whether her connection with Rambova ever developed into a sexual affair. 

Of those Nazimova is confirmed to have been involved with romantically, the list includes actress Eva Le Gallienne, director Dorothy Arzner, writer Mercedes de Acosta, and Oscar Wilde's niece, Dolly Wilde. Bridget Bate Tichenor, a Magic Realist artist and Surrealist painter, was also rumored to be one of Nazimova's favored lovers in Hollywood during the World War II years of 1940 to 1942. The two had been introduced by the poet and art collector Edward James, and according to Tichenor, their intimate relationship angered Nazimova's longtime companion, Glesca Marshall. It was allegedly Nazimova who coined the phrase "sewing circles" as code to refer to lesbian or bisexual actresses of her day who concealed their true sexuality.

 

Alla Nazimova

 

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