Wednesday, 19 October 2011

hall of dames # 23 - tilly losch

Ottilie Ethel Leopoldine "Tilly" Losch, Countess of Carnarvon, was born in Vienna, Austria on the 15th of November, 1903. Tilly began studying ballet at the Vienna Opera as a child, later becoming an accomplished dancer and choreographer and eventually expanding her repertoire to include dramatic stage work.

Losch's stage success led to supporting roles in several Hollywood films, including The Garden of Allah (1936) with Marlene Dietrich. Tilly was best known for a composition entitled "The Hand Dance", which was featured in a short dance film by Norman Bel Geddes.

Losch was married twice, the first time to millionaire Edward James, a patron of the surrealist arts. Edward founded a ballet company specifically for Tilly which made performances in London and Paris. he would later file for divorce on the grounds that Losch had committed adultery with american hotel executive Prince Serge Obelensky, to which Losch launched a failed countersuit stating that Edward was a homosexual. at James' former estate, a permanent reminder of ms. Losch can be found woven into the carpet of his spiral staircase. as a token of his love for her, James had Tilly's wet footprints (left on the stairs after emerging from her bath) woven directly into the fibres of the rug. in the years following their divorce, Edward made a similar carpet from the footprints of his dog.

battling severe clinical depression, Tilly eventually abandoned dance entirely and spent time in a Swiss sanitarium. she married second husband Henry Herbert, 6th Earl of Carnarvon and began painting, first in water colours and then in oils. out of concern for her health and fear of the escalating danger of war era Europe, Herbet sent Tilly back to New York. there she had her first painting exhibition in 1944, which was well received. her work now hangs in London's Tate gallery, among others. Losch and Herbert divorced in 1947.

Tilly died of cancer in New York at the age of 72.

1 comment:

williecross said...

Interesting and well thought through blog, stunning pictures of Tilly. Congratulations. Following on from my books on Lady Evelyn Stanhope and Elsie Howard, the two Fourth Countesses and Almina Wombwell, the indefatigable Fifth Countesses of Carnarvon, I have now completed a book on the two Sixth Countesses of Carnarvon. " Catherine and Tilly: Porchey Carnarvon's Two Duped Wives. The Tragic Tales of the Sixth Countesses of Carnarvon" . This will play out for what it’s worth or not alongside Highclere's latest romp on the American refugee Catherine Wendell. My narrative draws on original papers, newspapers and the Wendell papers in Portsmouth Athenaeum, in Maine, USA as well as the good will of members of the Wendell family. It will also be based on interviews and testimony from several people who knew and dearly loved Catherine. The book also includes a long detailed narrative on the life and times of Tilly Losch the great dancer, and bit part actress, an icon of the Twentieth Century, a sort of wonder woman with the combined force of Garbo, Monroe, Madonna and Lady Gaga. Kind Regards, William Cross, FSA Scot.