The Dolly Sisters, twins Roszika (Rosie) and Janszieka (Jenny) Deutsch were Vaudeville performers.
They were born October 25, 1892 in Balassagyarmat, Hungary, and emigrated to the United States in 1905. They perfected a single-sex "tandem" dance act - practising in front of mirrors - under the name of 'The Dolly Sisters' they began earning money in beer halls as early as 1907. Barred for being under age by the New York City stage, they toured the Orpheum Circuit until 1909 when they debuted on the Keith Vaudeville Circuit till 1911 when they signed with the Ziegfeld Follies for two seasons.
In addition to making about a half dozen films from 1913 to 1920, they toured the theatres and dance halls of Europe. Sometimes they would appear with separate partners as "rival" acts to boost ticket sales. Their gambling "career" was nearly as successful. They won $850,000 in one season at Deauville and one evening in Cannes, Jenny won 4 million francs, which she converted to a collection of jewellery; she then went on to win another $11 million.
Their private life was as melodramatic as their public life was stellar. Circa 1918, they became lovers of Harry Gordon Selfridge.
Jenny was involved in a serious car crash near Bordeaux with her former lover Max Constant. It took six weeks, 15 painful surgical procedures and the sale of most her jewellery to restore Jenny to some semblance of her former beauty but it left her "a broken shell", as she would say to friends.
Jenny died on May 1, 1941, having committed suicide by hanging herself in the shower of her apartment in the Shelton Hotel.
Rosie lived long enough to see a biopic made in 1945 of their lives called, inevitably The Dolly Sisters - starring June Haver and Betty Grable - but in 1962 she attempted to follow her sister in suicide. The bid failed. She died on February 1, 1970, succumbing to congestive heart failure. Neither sister had produced any offspring.
- Green, Stanley; Encyclopedia Of The Musical Theatre; 1980; pg. 102
- Farnsworth, Marjorie. The Ziegfeld Follies. With an introduction by Billie Burke Ziegfeld. New York: Putnam. 1956.
- The Delectable Dollies by Gary Chapman. Stroud. Sutton. 2006.