Gilda Gray
Date of Birth
Oct 24, 1901
Birth Place:
Krakow, Poland

Biography

One of the icons of the flapper era, Polish born Gilda Gray (born Marianna Winchalska) invented her trademark "shimmy," she later said, out of sheer nervousness during a bar-room performance of the "Star-Spangled Banner." Exploited mercilessly by tough impresario/nightclub owner Gaillard "Gil" Boag, who was to become her second husband, Gray reached top stardom with the Shubert Gaieties of 1919 and in the Ziegfeld Follies. She parlayed her talents into screen stardom as Aloma of the South Seas (1926), a blockbuster which reportedly earned Paramount a whopping three million dollars in the first three months of release. Cabaret and The Devil Dancer (both 1927) followed, but Gray was no actress and both films flopped. To exacerbate matters, there was a messy divorce from Boag in 1929 and a heart attack in 1931. Attempting a comeback, Gray was hired by MGM to add verisimilitude to the studio's gigantic film biography The Great Ziegfeld, but her three scenes all ended up on the cutting-room floor. There was a much publicized stage comeback in Billy Rose's Diamond Horseshoe but Gray earned even more press claiming that Columbia Pictures unlawfully depicted her life story in the hit Rita Hayworth starrer Gilda (1946). Amazingly, she received a handsome out-of-court settlement for her troubles. Gray's real life story was rather more appropriately featured on the television show This Is Your Life in 1956, which inspired a flurry of renewed interest. Sadly, it didn't last long and Gray was all but broke when she succumbed to a second, fatal, heart attack in her Hollywood apartment three years later. ~ Hans J. Wollstein, Rovi

Provided by Rovi