b. Elsie Bierbower, 16 March 1889, Columbus, Ohio, USA, d. 26 February 1956, Los Angeles, California, USA. In New York Janis was in When We Were Forty-One (1905), The Vanderbilt Cup (1906), The Hoyden (1907), The Fair Co-Ed (1908), The Lady Of The Slipper (1912) and Miss Information (1915). The latter featured ‘A Little Love’, with lyrics by Janis and music by Jerome Kern. During World War I, she entertained troops and appeared in London’s The Passing Show (1915 and 1916). She starred in and was librettist and co-composer for Broadway’s Elsie Janis And Her Gang (1919) and London’s It’s All Wrong: A Musical Complaint (1920). For Elsie Janis And Her Gang (1922) she wrote ‘I’ve Waited All My Life’ and was in Puzzles Of 1925, writing ‘The Undecided Blues’. Other sole composer songs include ‘I’d Rather Love What I Cannot Have Than Have What I Cannot Love’ and ‘There Ought To Be More Like You’. She wrote lyrics for ‘Some Sort Of Somebody’ (music by Kern), interpolated in Very Good Eddie (1915, revived 1975), ‘I Never Knew’ (music by Irving Berlin) and ‘Love Your Spell Is Everywhere’ (music by Edmund Goulding, sung in his 1929 film The Trespasser).
Janis starred in the silent films The Caprices Of Kitty, Betty In Search Of A Thrill, Nearly A Lady, ’Twas Ever Thus (all 1915), The Imp and A Regular Girl (both 1919), with screenplay credit on all but the last. From the early 30s, Janis worked in Hollywood with writing credits including Oh, Kay! (1928, adaptation), Close Harmony (1929, original story), Madam Satan (1930, screenplay), Reaching For The Moon (1930, additional dialogue), and The Squaw Man (1931, additional dialogue). For Paramount On Parade (1930) she was production supervisor and composed the title song. Another song, ‘Oh, Give Me Time For Tenderness’ was in 1939’s Dark Victory. A founder member of ASCAP, Janis is believed to have written uncredited and hence speculative lyrics for several songs including ‘The Darktown Strutters’ Ball’. Janis’ only appearance in a sound film was Women In War (1940). In January 1939 she wrote and performed a one-woman show, Elsie Janis. She published various books including a collection of poems, a memoir of her time with the troops in 1919, and an autobiography.