Tuesday, June 05, 2007

THIS MONTH'S EYE CANDY: LILLIE LANGTRY. "The Jersey Lily" was one of the great beauties of the Victorian age and early 20th century. Born on the island of Jersey in 1853, she first became one of the greatest socialites of her time as well as the mistress of the Prince of Wales. The story goes that one night at a party she came downstairs wearing the exact same outfit as the Prince. The Prince was not amused and told her that it just wasn't done. Lillie, with her customary headstrong demeanor, promptly poured ice water down the back of the Prince's neck. This incident caused her to lose favour in social circles and, when her husband went bankrupt, forced her to take up acting on the stage (here she can be seen as Cleopatra). She met and became friends with perhaps the greatest actress of her time: Sarah Bernhardt. Lillie quickly gained fame and was also one of the first celebrities to be featured advertising a commercial product: Pears Soap. Quickly becoming one of the most prominent actresses of her time, she went to America and dazzled them there as well. The famous Judge Roy Bean of Texas was so taken with her (though he never actually MET her), that he renamed his town "Langtry". Lillie actually became an American citizen in 1887. The end came in 1929 and the great "Jersey Lily" was buried on her birth island of Jersey. I first became enamored of her when, in the early 1980s I read Noel Gerson's biography "Because I Loved Him: The Lives and Loves of Lillie Langtry". The Jersey Lily had an EXTREMELY colourful life (most of which I haven't even touched on here).

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