JUMP TO PAGE   100  >  200  >  300  >  400  >  500  >  600

American Girl: 1922

Washington, D.C. "Kay Laurell, 1922." The star of stage and screen, Kay (reclining) was "an American girl who leaped from stenographer to Queen of Bohemia in a night ... she appears in magazine illustrations, and in the new salon pictures -- also on butchers' calendars, soap ads, and so on." Five years after this photo was taken, Kay was dead of pneumonia at age 37. View full size.

Washington, D.C. "Kay Laurell, 1922." The star of stage and screen, Kay (reclining) was "an American girl who leaped from stenographer to Queen of Bohemia in a night ... she appears in magazine illustrations, and in the new salon pictures -- also on butchers' calendars, soap ads, and so on." Five years after this photo was taken, Kay was dead of pneumonia at age 37. View full size.


On Shorpy:
Today’s Top 5

Cause of her death

Wikipedia states she died in childbirth, which was initially reported as pneumonia since the child was out of wedlock. Wonderful descriptions of her Ziegfield tableaux in that link as well.

Goose lard and whiskey

A few years after Kaye Laurel died of pneumonia, my grandfather contracted double pneumonia. The doctors basically threw up their hands and said there was nothing more they could do. Well, his mother, one of the most bull-headed people who ever lived, showed up at the hospital with a jar of goose lard and a bottle of whiskey. Several times a day, she would go and rub lard on Grandpa's chest and give him a shot of whiskey. This was in about 1932. Grandpa was with us until 1992.

Grandpa said it was divine intervention that saved his life. My great grandmother said it was the goose lard and whiskey. Maybe it was some of both!

In the same boat

They're all beautiful -- back in a time where it was healthy for women to "have a little meat on their bones" (I just think they're healthy looking!) I love the girl who's playing the oar as a guitar -- something I'd do.

Available drugs

This young woman's death is almost familiar to me. My grandmother died of pneumonia in the early 1930's, within three days of the onset of illness. My mother always noted, when speaking of her mother's death, that the best drug they had to fight the pneumonia then was quinine. The sulfa drugs didn't become available until the late 1930s.

By the way, I disagree about the cause of the marks on the one girl's legs. I suspect that the rings were left by stockings rolled over an elastic garter.

You Gotta Be Kidding Me

What happened to slim and trim?

As a woman

I still say the swimsuits are ugly. Now that no one else has asked, I simply must know what the strange round protuberance is near the nether regions of the second lady from the viewer's left. Anyone? A place to put a cork to help her stay afloat?

Playing at the Belasco

Washington Post, Jul 6, 1922

Coming to the Theaters


The Belasco Players, augmented by such notables as Kay Laurell, the famous Follies beauty, and Eleanor Griffith, late of "The Last Waltz," will next week present the Avery Hopwood comedy of turkish bath locale, "Ladies' Night," beginning Sunday evening.

Wet and Woolly

They're all adorable, and I'm surprised how sexy those wool swimsuits look. To my surprise, I'm especially captivated by the buxom cutie standing up beside the boat with her hair covered. She looks like she gets all the BS about the queen of Bohemia and is fonder of the water than any of this nonsense.

Most appealing though is the dark haired girl with bangs sitting in the boat. Her face is calm and she seems really for real.

Great photo.

As a Man

I appreciate the low standard established for us. It doesn't take much effort to rise above such a low bar.


I love how any photo with women in it gets subjected to choosing which of them is the hottest. I'm sure the the same thing happens with all of the photos of men. Yep.

[Stick around. - Dave]

Before the days of antibiotics

Her story reminds us of the many greats in history who had everything but with one cold, TB or pandemic illness were struck down. Today her pneumonia would be easily treated with a shot of antibiotics and some bed rest. In some ways even the poorest of us has the ability to live longer because of cures offered by modern medicine.

On the Left

Can those be shadows on her legs? Looks like socks with cuffs, or stockings, and then from beneath her suit legs to her knees? The world's weirdest sun burn? Or what?

[Those are girdle marks. Just like your ankles might look after taking off tight socks. - Dave]

Kay in a Nutshell

Typical show-biz tragedy. Small town girl from Erie, Pennsylvania goes to New York to make it big. While working as a secretary, is discovered in 1914, and became a big hit as a Ziegfeld Girl in the "Follies" shows of 1914 and 1915. Then hits pay dirt -- marrying uber-rich movie producer Winfield Sheehan in 1916. Hits the zenith of her career in the Ziegfeld Follies of 1918, where a very intentional costume malfunction (as the partially exposed French Liberte in a patriotic wartime extravaganza) makes her an international sensation. Heads out west to Hollywood to make movies, like everyone else in the silent era. Gains a reputation of a hard worker, and tries to make the tough transition from chorus girl to "real" actress.

Then it all goes south. Gets divorced from big studio sugar daddy in late 1918 or 1919. Unlike most other former chorus girls, she is unwilling to get ahead by way of the casting couch. Is in a serious car accident in 1919, running off the road at 1:30 a.m. and takes a pretty hard banging around, requiring stitches and hospitalization. Makes only one other movie after that, in 1921. Returns to New York to find stage work. A cast player in one play in 1923 that runs a respectable five months, and then one poor effort in 1925 that flops and closes overnight. Feeling washed up in both theater and film, she retires to London, where she dies of pneumonia in 1927.

I hope she didn't own a dachshund.

Va va voom

A boat full of women in bathing suits. What could be better?

She's playing

oar guitar

Carole Hanel

Girl second from right was Carole Hanel, a redhead. Knew her granddaughter.

Water Hazard

I can hear their mothers saying, "Don't go out in those skimpy suits, you'll catch your death of pneumonia!"

To each his own, but --

The girl in the boat with the "Queen of Bohemia" is by far the hottest. Wowza!

Farrrrr left

She is the cutest loveliest thing ever seen on Shorpy yet.

Proud to call any of 'em "grandma"

They are all so lovely and charming and all the age of my father's mother. Sorry about the pneumonia, hope the rest had happy and fulfilling lives. Love the kooky hat, pinned-up suit, and the smoldering look of the second from left. Great picture.

Beauts in a boat

Is the class clown on the end playing air ukulele? I can only imagine the comments this is going to generate from the male demographic. Yes, the swimsuits are unflattering. And yes, the real knockout is the one sitting behind the Queen of Bohemia.

Syndicate content is a vintage photography site featuring thousands of high-definition images. The site is named after Shorpy Higginbotham, a teenage coal miner who lived 100 years ago. Contact us | Privacy policy | Accessibility Statement | Site © 2023 Shorpy Inc.