Irène Bordoni (16 January 1885 – 19 March 1953) was a
Corsican-American actress and singer.
1 Early years
4 In Hollywood
5 Personal life
6 Songs associated with Bordoni
8 External links
Bordoni was born in Ajaccio,
Corsica to Sanveur Bordoni, a tailor, and
Marie Lemonnier. The 19th-century painter Francis Millet was a great
uncle who died in the Titanic disaster. She became a child actor,
performing in Paris on stage and in silent films for a few years,
having signed with theatrical agent André Charlot. Bordoni made
her first appearance on the stage at the age of thirteen, at the
She went to the
United States on 28 December 1907, in steerage on the
S. S. La Provence. Bordoni's year of birth is given in standard
theatrical biographies as 1895, but her real birth year is 1885. She
was 22 on the ship's passenger list when she arrived in the United
States in 1907. She went first to Reno, Nevada, where her father had
reportedly settled previously.
Irène Bordoni on stage
Bordoni made her Broadway debut in a
Shubert brothers production of
Broadway to Paris at the
Winter Garden Theatre
Winter Garden Theatre and was a successor to
Anna Held as Broadway's idea of French piquancy and Continental
flavor. She was in Miss Information (1915) and successive
Hitchy-Koo (1917 and 1918). 1919 audiences saw
Bordoni in Sleeping Partners co-starring with
H. B. Warner
H. B. Warner at the
Bijou. In 1920 her "captivating voice and presence" graced As You
Were at the Central Theater.
Bordoni introduced George Gershwin's hit song "Do It Again" with
vivacity and verve in the 1922 Broadway show The French Doll at the
Lyceum. The title of the show became her soubriquet. She also
starred in Little Miss Bluebeard (1923) and Naughty Cinderella (1925)
by Avery Hopwood, about which the theatre critic for the New York
Times said, "Of Miss Bordoni one can report only what has been
reported many times. Her voice, her accent and particularly her
reeling eyes are, as ever, unmistakably attractive."
Noted for her seductive brown eyes and coquettish personality, Irène
Bordoni is probably best remembered from musical theatre as the star
of the 1928
Cole Porter musical Paris that featured the song "Let's Do
It (Let's Fall In Love)" which became Porter's first big success.
Bordoni would record and sing many times live and on radio another
Cole Porter song, "Let's Misbehave" with
Irving Aaronson and His
Commanders dance band. The song has been included on the soundtrack of
five motion pictures including Everything You Always Wanted to Know
About Sex* (*But Were Afraid to Ask) (1972), Pennies from Heaven
Bullets Over Broadway
Bullets Over Broadway (1994). Porter later included
Bordoni's name in the lyrics of his song
You're the Top ("you're the
eyes of Irène Bordoni") from the musical Anything Goes
Throughout her Broadway career, Bordoni was renowned for wearing only
the most stylish of clothes, including costumes by Erté. During
this time, Bordoni appeared in
Lucky Strike cigarette advertisements
with the quip, I smoke a Lucky to keep petite, which was said to have
contributed to the tremendous increase in women's smoking in the
Bordoni wore her hair with trademark bangs, which she helped to
popularize; indeed her 'look' was successfully emulated not only by
her admirers but also by late 1920s budding Broadway starlet Claudette
Colbert. She was stockbroker W. D. Hutton's first customer when he
opened his branch office on West 57th Street.
During the 1930s, she was a guest singer on many variety programs as
well as being featured on The RKO Hour. Bordoni pleased audiences
on both sides of the Atlantic, as with Irving Berlin's It's a Lovely
Day Tomorrow in London's West End in 1939.
Irène Bordoni filmography
Bordoni made her Hollywood debut in
Warner Brothers Show of Shows
(1928). In 1929 her Broadway play Paris was adapted to a talkie,
also called Paris, for which she reprised her starring role. The film
Vitaphone sound-on-disc sound system and was shot in early
Technicolor. That year Bordoni also performed "Just an Hour of Love"
(by Al Bryan and Ed Ward) for the
Warner Brothers film The Show of
Shows produced by Darryl F. Zanuck. In 1932
Max Fleischer featured her
in his follow-the-bouncing-ball Screen Song cartoon "Just A
Her status as a major star of the American stage was such that in his
song "You're The Top",
Cole Porter included the reference "You’re
the eyes of Irene Bordoni". During the 1930s, she continued to perform
on stage and starred in another
Warner Brothers musical comedy film.
In 1940, Bordoni was part of another major Broadway success with the
Irving Berlin musical Louisiana Purchase and again reprised her role
Paramount Pictures film Louisiana Purchase (1941) with Bob
Hope. She had another success in the role of "Bloody Mary" in the 1951
national tour of the musical South Pacific.
Bordoni was married to actor Edgar Becman whom she divorced in
1917. She married again on 24 October 1918 to Broadway
producer and lyricist
E. Ray Goetz
E. Ray Goetz who produced many of her Broadway
shows (and whose sister
Dorothy Goetz was Irving Berlin's first
wife) but they divorced in 1929.
At the height of her international appeal she maintained homes in
increasingly stylish New York neighborhoods: from 230 West End Avenue
to 108 East 78th Street to 104 East 40th Street — as well as in
Paris and Monte Carlo. She invested in real estate in Palm Beach in
the 1920s during the Florida land boom. Bordoni was later associated
with theatrical agent and producer Avery Galen Bogue (1896–1951).
She died on 19 March 1953 at Jewish Memorial Hospital in Manhattan,
New York City. She was interred in the Ferncliff Cemetery,
Hartsdale, New York.
Songs associated with Bordoni
Bordoni introduced or was the first interpreter of the following
Do It Again
I Won't Say I Will but I Won't Say I Won't
So This Is Love
Do I Love You?
Where is the Song of Songs for Me?
Don't Look at Me that Way
Let's Do It: Let's Fall in Love
You Can't Believe My Eyes
Just an Hour of Love
^ Great Stars of the American Stage by Daniel C. Blum, c. 1952 orig.
(this version 1954 edition) Profile #97
^ Moore, James Ross, André Charlot, 2005, page 22
^ Group, Gale, Who Was Who in the Theatre, 1912–1976: A Biographical
Dictionary of Actors, 1978, page 244
^ "The Statue of Liberty & Ellis Island". ellisisland.org.
^ Moreno, Barry, Ellis Island's Famous Immigrants, 2008, p. 81
^ New York Times, 4 October 1914.
^ Green, Stanley, Encyclopedia of the Musical Theatre 1980, page 40
^ The Green Book Magazine, 1919, page 177
^ Mantle, Burns, The Best Plays of 1919 to 1920 and the Year Book of
the Drama in America, 2005, page 420
^ The Independent, 1920, page 382
^ Pollack, Howard, George Gershwin: His Life and Work, 2006; page 263
^ New York Times, 23 November 1925.
^ "Gown for Madame Bordoni circa 1925". [permanent dead link]
^ Journal of Nervous and Mental Disease, page 360; American
Neurological Association, New York Neurological Association,
Philadelphia Neurological Society, Chicago Neurological Society,
^ Geisst, Charles R., 100 years of Wall Street, 2000, p. 69
^ Slide, Anthony, Great Radio Personalities in Historic Photographs,
1982, p. 19
^ The Complete Lyrics of
Irving Berlin by Irving Berlin, Robert
Kimball and Linda Emmet (2005), p. 339
^ Cullen, Frank Cullen, Florence Hackman and Donald McNeilly,
Vaudeville, Old & New; p. 131
^ "Actress Asks Divorce. Miss Bordoni Also Sues Gilda Darthy for
Alienation". New York Times. July 11, 1917.
^ Ellis Island Records
^ Schwartz, Charles, Cole Porter: A Biography, 1979, page 94
^ Irene Bordoni obituary, Billboard, 28 March 1953.
^ "Irene Bordoni Dies in Hospital at 59. Vivacious French Girl of
1920's Captivated Broadway, Paris in Her 'Naughty' Roles". New York
Times. March 20, 1953.
^ "Irene Bordoni Rites. Many Theatre Figures Attend Service for
Musical Star". New York Times. March 23, 1953.
^ Laird, Ross, Moanin' Low
^ "Irene Bordoni,
Irving Aaronson - Don't Look At Me That Way".
YouTube. 9 December 2008.
^ Porter, Cole and Robert Kimball, The Complete Lyrics of Cole
^ ""You Can't Believe My Eyes" (1929) High Hatters". YouTube. 13 March
^ "A French Entertainer sings a wonderful song - 1929". YouTube. 20
Irène Bordoni on IMDb
Irène Bordoni at the
Internet Broadway Database
Internet Broadway Database
Irene Bordoni at AllMovie
Max Fleischer cartoon Just a Gigolo (1932) with Bordoni singing the
title song on YouTube
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