Irene Bordoni

b. 16 January 1895, Corsica, d. 19 March 1953, New York, USA. A vivacious actress and singer who has been described as ‘petite, chic, coquettish and the epitome of French au-la-la.’ After being educated…
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Artist Biography

b. 16 January 1895, Corsica, d. 19 March 1953, New York, USA. A vivacious actress and singer who has been described as ‘petite, chic, coquettish and the epitome of French au-la-la.’ After being educated in Paris, Bordoni first appeared on the French stage in 1907, and made her Broadway debut five years later in the revue Broadway To Paris (1912). After returning to France to work in Parisian revues, she was back on Broadway in 1915, along with the lively Elsie Janis, in the short-lived (47 performances) Miss Information, ‘a little comedy with a little music’, which had a score written mostly by Jerome Kern and Janis herself. After taking part in two of Raymond Hubbell’s Hitchy-Koo revues in 1917 and 1918, Bordoni joined ex-vaudeville comedian Sam Bernard, and played four different roles in As You Were (1920), ‘a fantastic revue’ based on Rip’s Parisian production Plus Ça Change. This was the first of three shows of hers that were produced by her then husband E. Ray Goetz. In 1922 Bordoni introduced George Gershwin and Buddy De Sylva’s ‘Do It Again’ in The French Doll, and then sang the risqué ‘Let’s Do It (Let’s Fall In Love)’ in Cole Porter’s first hit show, Paris (1928). In between those two musicals, she appeared on the London stage in Avery Hopwood’s Little Miss Bluebeard. In 1938 neither Bordoni or co-stars Norma Terris, Helen Ford, and Tullio Carminati could save the operetta Great Lady, even though it had music by Frederick Loewe (pre- Alan Jay Lerner), but her Broadway swan-song, Irving Berlin’s Louisiana Purchase (1940), in the company of William Gaxton, Vera Zorina, and Victor Moore, was a much better prospect, and ran for 444 performances. Bordini appeared in the movie version in 1942, having been to Hollywood previously to film one of her other stage successes, Paris (1929), in which she co-starred with the suave English song and dance man, Jack Buchanan. In the same year she sang ‘Just An Hour Of Love’ in the lavish all-star movie The Show Of Shows. The song was one of her many recordings, and she also had record hits with ‘So This Is Love’ (1924) and ‘This Means Nothing To Me’ (1926). Throughout her career, Bordoni also appeared in the non-musical theatre, regional productions, and vaudeville. Towards the end of her life, she took over the role of Bloody Mary from Diosa Costello during the US road tour of South Pacific, which set out in 1950 and ran for nearly five years.