Elsie Janis

Elsie Janis

Elsie Janis (March 16, 1889 – February 26, 1956) was an American singer, songwriter, actress, and screenwriter. Entertaining the troops during World War I immortalized her as "the sweetheart of the AEF" (American Expeditionary Force).

Early career

Born Elsie Bierbower (or Beerbower) in Marion County, Ohio, she first took to the stage at age 2. By age 11, she was a headliner on the vaudeville circuit, performing under the name "Little Elsie". As she matured, using the stage name Elsie Janis, she began perfecting her comedic skills.

Acclaimed by American and British critics, Janis was a headliner on Broadway and London. On Broadway, she starred in a number of successful shows, including "The Hoyden" (1907), "Very Good Eddie" (1915) and "The Century Girl" (1916).

Elsie performed at the grand opening of the Brown Theatre in Louisville, Kentucky on October 5, 1925.

Janis also enjoyed a career as a Hollywood screenwriter, actor and composer; her song "Oh, Give Me Time for Tenderness" was featured in Bette Davis' 1939 movie, "Dark Victory".

World War I

Janis was a tireless advocate for British and American soldiers fighting in World War I. She raised funds for Liberty Bonds. Janis also took her act on the road, entertaining troops stationed near the front lines - one of the first popular American artists to do so in a war fought on foreign soil. Ten days after the armistice she recorded for HMV several numbers from her revue "Hullo, America", including "Give Me the Moonlight, Give Me the Girl." [Rust, Brian, introduction to facsimile reprint of HMV catalogues 1914-18, David & Charles, Newton Abbot, ISBN 0715368427] She wrote about her wartime experiences in "The Big Show: My Six Months with the American Expeditionary Forces" (published in 1919), and recreated them in a 1926 Vitaphone musical short, "Behind the Lines".

Later life

Janis maintained her private home, ElJan, on the eastside of High Street in Columbus, Ohio, across the street from what was Ohio State University's "Buckeye Field", the precursor to Ohio Stadium. Janis sold the house following her mother's death; a McDonalds now occupies the site of ElJan.

In 1932, Janis married Gilbert Wilson, who was sixteen years her junior. The couple lived in Tarrytown, New York until Janis moved to the Los Angeles area of California where she lived until her death. Her final film was the 1940 "Women in War" co-starring Wendy Barrie and Peter Cushing.

Elsie Janis died in 1956 at her home in Beverly Hills, California, aged 66, and was interred in the Forest Lawn Memorial Park Cemetery in Glendale, California.

For her contribution to the motion picture industry, Elsie Janis has a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame at 6776 Hollywood Blvd.

External links

* [http://library.osu.edu/sites/exhibits/Janis/ Extensive biographical site] at Ohio State University

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