Diamond Tooth Lil was an American cultural figure popular in the early 20th century as an icon of wealth and libertine burlesque. Several individuals called themselves 'Diamond Lil' or 'Diamond Tooth', creating an amalgamated legacy clouded by myth. These individuals include a vaudeville entertainer in the Yukon during the 1890s Klondike Gold Rush, a madam in the American West during the early 1900s, and the titular character of Mae West's Diamond Lil, who embodied these traits and popularized the name in the 1920s.
Multiple women of the American West have used the name 'Diamond Tooth' and 'Diamond Lil'. In the case of the two most prominent, historians have often confused the lives of Honora Ornstein and Evelyn Hildegard, who both went by the name Diamond Lil around the turn of the 20th century, both emigrants from Austria, with similar ages, careers in entertainment, and diamond-inset teeth. They did differ, however, in where they lived: Ornstein in the Klondike and Seattle, and Hildegard in California and Nevada. Lil became known as enigmatic figure, and has been variously attributed as a 'dance hall girl, gambler, prostitute, or madam who smoked cigars and carried a gun'—a legacy clouded with myth. By the 1920s, Diamond Tooth Lil was a household name.
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The first Diamond Tooth Lil was a woman named Honora Ornstein, born in 1882. Details about her early years are unclear and sometimes contradictory. The Master File of the Social Security Death Index gives her birthplace as Austria (then Austria-Hungary). The 1920 United States Census gives her birthplace as France. Information about her family's emigration to the United States is also unclear. A 1936 article in The Washington Post stated that she was the daughter of a Jewish family and had formerly been known as Lillian Orinstein. Newspapers in the 1960s reported that she was the daughter of wealthy cattle ranchers from Montana.
Ornstein arrived in the Yukon town of Dawson in 1898 or 1899. She became famous during the Klondike Gold Rush in the Yukon before the turn of the century on the Pantagesvaudeville circuit, where she was a star entertainer for the region's spendthrift 'sourdough' gold seekers. A nearby gambling house owner said that Lil spent three or four years there. Her stage name, Diamond Tooth Lil, is based on her several diamond-inset dental fillings, including ones in her front and canine teeth. She also collected and wore other diamond-studded jewelry, including a white gold snake bracelet studded with 125 real diamonds that scaled the length of her arm. Around 1908, she had moved to Seattle and was remembered for ostentatiously spending money during a Klondikers' parade. She married Robert Ernst Snelgrove in 1918. It is unclear if they divorced or he died, or when this occurred; she is reported as having married George Miller 'later'. Shortly before she divorced her last husband around 1928, she lived in an apartment she had purchased in Seattle and inherited $150,000 from her mother, equivalent to $2.26 million in 2020.
Lil made newspaper headlines in 1936 when she was committed to Western State Hospital, a psychiatric hospital in Washington, and reported as near-death. By this time, she had sold the diamonds from her teeth but was thought to still have considerable wealth—only she was unable to speak and her relatives were not in contact. Her reputation limited the market for her jewelry collection, which she struggled to sell in the 1950s. Lil's lawyer reported that her assets had been exhausted by 1961. After spending the remainder of her life in state institutions, Lil died in a Yakima, Washington, nursing home on June 18, 1975. She was buried in a simple grave and had no known relatives.The New York Times remembered Lil as a 'dance hall queen' and 'the toast of the North'.
Sierra Nevada Lil
Evelyn Fialla was also born in Austria-Hungary, in approximately 1877.[a] Her family emigrated to the United States and settled in Youngstown, Ohio. She met Percy Hildegard when she was fourteen and eloped with him to Chicago, where she became a saloon singer. She divorced him on an unspecified date, and went on to marry several more times over the course of her life. Sources such as Ripley's Believe It Or Not! reported thirteen marriages. Hildegard herself put the number at eight.
As a traveling dancer, she worked her way from Ohio across the West to San Francisco, California. After the 1906 San Francisco earthquake left the city in ruins, Hildegard moved to Goldfield, Nevada, a boomtown of the California Gold Rush. Hildegard was paid handsomely for her exceptionally popular act at the town's Northern Saloon. Though she ultimately spent less than a year in Goldfield, she quickly opened her own dance hall and had a relationship with prospectorDiamondfield Jack. Hildegard was said to have won her title of Diamond Tooth Lil in a successful bet with a Reno dentist, who set a diamond in her front tooth.
Lil was said to have entertained and managed multiple profitable brothels across the West, including Death Valley, California, Denver, Colorado, and Boise, Idaho, where her 'Star Rooms' in Boise had amenities including steam heating and both hot and cold water. She had reached Boise by the early 1940s. In 1944, she announced that her famous front tooth diamond would be willed to the Idaho Children's Home orphanage upon her death. By 1966, she had sold her jewelry and was penniless in California. She died at the Claremont Sanitarium of Pomona in 1967.
Diamond Lil, the successful Broadway play written and acted by Mae West in 1928, is assumed but not confirmed to be based on the Lils' lives. The show was later adapted into the 1933 film She Done Him Wrong. West said that her inspiration for the name likely came from her father's nickname for her mother, 'Til', short for 'Matilda', and sometimes with her drink of choice, 'Champagne Til'. West based the character on herself and viewed Lil as an alter ego. 'The femme fatale of the Bowery', declared The New York Times of West's Lil in the play's 1949 revival, 'bowling her leading men over one by one with her classical impersonation of a storybook strumpet', dressed in 'some of the gaudiest finery of the century' with a 'snaky walk, torso wriggle, stealthy eyes, frozen smile, flat, condescending voice, [and] queenly gestures'—in all, 'a triumph of nostalgic vulgarity'. West won a lawsuit in 1966 against a Los Angeles performer for infringement of the name 'Diamond Lil'.
- ^Based on her reported age of 89 at her death in 1967.
- ^Oberding, Janice (2015). 'Diamond Tooth Lil and the Red-Light Ghosts'. Ghosts of Goldfield and Tonopah. Charleston, South Carolina: Arcadia Publishing. pp. 119–123. ISBN978-1-62585-478-0. OCLC907885654.
- ^ abcdefgMacKell, Jan (2009). 'Illicit Ladies of Idaho'. Red Light Women of the Rocky Mountains. Albuquerque: University of New Mexico Press. pp. 163–165. ISBN978-0-8263-4610-0. OCLC699260779.
- ^ abcdOberding 2015, p. 121.
- ^Oberding 2015, pp. 121–122.
- ^ abOberding 2015, p. 120.
- ^MacKell 2009, p. 163, 416.
- ^MacKell 2009, p. 416.
- ^ abcdefghij''Diamond Lil' Is Near Death; Once Was Toast of Klondike'. The Washington Post. Associated Press. July 1, 1936. p. X3. ProQuest150783217.
- ^Barrett, Eldon (April 30, 1961). ''Diamond Lil' of Yukon Now 90, Broke, and Ill'. Arizona Republic. p. 4. Retrieved February 20, 2019 – via Newspapers.com.
- ^'Saloon Girl of Gold Days Seriously Ill'. The Capital Journal. July 9, 1936. p. 14. Retrieved February 20, 2019 – via Newspapers.com.
- ^ abcde'Diamond Tooth Lil, 92, Gold Rush Queen, Dead'. The New York Times. United Press International. June 21, 1975. ISSN0362-4331.
- ^'Diamond Tooth Lil' Dying: Seattle Hunts Relatives of Beauty of Alaska Gold Rush'. The New York Times. Associated Press. July 1, 1936. ISSN0362-4331.
- ^ abcde'Diamond Tooth Lil, Toast of Sourdoughs'. The Washington Post. Associated Press. June 21, 1975. p. B6. ISSN0190-8286 – via ProQuest.
- ^'Diamond Tooth Lil Dies at 89'. The San Bernardino County Sun. Associated Press. September 8, 1967. p. 9. Retrieved May 3, 2018 – via Newspapers.com.
- ^'Ripley's Believe It Or Not!'. The News-Item. Shamokin, Pennsylvania. March 4, 1974. p. 14. Retrieved May 3, 2018 – via Newspapers.com.
- ^Hood, Ernie (December 8, 1943). ''Diamond-Tooth Lil' Recalls Gay Days of Era When She Was Toast of Dance Halls of the West'. The Idaho Daily Statesman (Wednesday Morning ed.). p. 6 – via Boise Public Library Infoweb Newsbank.
- ^MacKell 2009, p. 163.
- ^ abcdOberding 2015, p. 122.
- ^Chandler, Charlotte (2009). She Always Knew How: Mae West, a Personal Biography. Simon and Schuster. pp. 119–120. ISBN978-1-4165-7913-7.
- ^Chandler 2009, p. 158.
- ^Atkinson, Brooks (February 7, 1949). 'Mae West Back in Town as 'Diamond Lil''. The New York Times. Retrieved October 15, 2017.
Free download or read online The Diamond of Drury Lane pdf (ePUB) book. The first edition of the novel was published in January 1st 2006, and was written by Julia Golding. The book was published in multiple languages including English, consists of 421 pages and is available in Hardcover format. The main characters of this historical, historical fiction story are , . The book has been awarded with Manchester Book Award Nominee for Longlist (2007), Costa Book Award Nominee for Children's Book (2006) and many others.
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The Diamond of Drury Lane PDF Details
|Original Title:||The Diamond of Drury Lane|
|Number Of Pages:||421 pages|
|First Published in:||January 1st 2006|
|Latest Edition:||January 1st 2006|
|Series:||Cat Royal Adventures #1|
|Awards:||Manchester Book Award Nominee for Longlist (2007), Costa Book Award Nominee for Children's Book (2006), Nestle Smarties Book Prize for 9â€“11 years (2006), Waterstones Children's Book Prize|
|category:||historical, historical fiction, mystery, historical, young adult, adventure, fiction|
|Formats:||ePUB(Android), audible mp3, audiobook and kindle.|
The translated version of this book is available in Spanish, English, Chinese, Russian, Hindi, Bengali, Arabic, Portuguese, Indonesian / Malaysian, French, Japanese, German and many others for free download.
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