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Marie Cahill

Biography: 

(1870-1933)

During the great Irish moment on Broadway, that era from Harrigan and Hart to George M. Cohan, audiences suspended their usual taste for the hour-glass configurations of professional stage beauties for a handful of other feminine types. Marie Cahill typified one--the plump, saucy, good-natured Irish gal, who maintains a Catholic propriety of conversation but is entirely willing to show some leg or sway her torso in order that the next generation might come into being. A clear-voiced songstress who could transmute the lyric inanities of "Under the Bamboo Tree" into imaginative voyage of yearning, her rendition of "Nancy Brown" became one of the rousing hits of the first decade of the 20th century. During her heyday from 1902 to 1906 she appeared in five hit shows and two respectable runs. Her greatest success was probably in Victor Herbert's "It Happened in Nordland." She lost her girlish appearance rather quickly, and declined into something of a vaudeville character chanteuse in the 1910s. Fortunately her comic repartee and several songs were recorded on cylinders, so we can savor her good humor in the 21st century. David S. Shields/ALS