January 30, 1902
|Died||May 12, 1963
|Occupation||Actress, comedienne, dancer, artist|
Stage and film career
Born Elise Seeds in Pennsylvania, she went to the Pennsylvania Academy and studied dancing with Isadora Duncan in Berlin, Germany. She gave dance recitals in New York City until she began to dislike it. Then she became a dancer in the Ziegfeld Follies.
Cavanna was a comedienne with Weber and Fields before she entered motion pictures in 1926. Her first film was Love 'Em and Leave 'Em (1926) with Louise Brooks and Evelyn Brent. Next she performed as an "early morning customer" with Brooks and W.C. Fields in It's the Old Army Game (1926). She worked with Fields in four other of his films, most notably The Dentist, where her scenes as a writhing victim of the brutal dentist (Fields) were deemed so risque that they were edited out for television broadcast decades later. Her on-screen interplay with Fields was compared (The Art of W.C. Fields] by William K. Everson) to that between Groucho Marx and Margaret Dumont. Cavanna remained in films until the late 1930s, compiling more than twenty screen credits.
In September 1933, Cavanna presented six abstract lithographs at a showing at Stendhals in Los Angeles, California. A newspaper review commented on the "cool precision of her lines and spots of tone." The art was best appreciated through the "mind's eye" rather than the eye itself. Cavanna's art was shown in October 1949 as part of the contemporary section in the California Centennials Exhibition of Art at the Los Angeles County Museum, Exposition Park. Oils, water colors, and prints from 20th-century artists were presented along with a historical section, which assembled early art. It displayed life in California from 1800 through 1870.
The Los Angeles Art Association exhibited Cavanna's work in a 1954 showing at 2425 Wilshire Boulevard. The four artists whose work was shown were known collectively as Functionists West. They were Stephen Longstreet, Helen Lundeberg, Cavanna, and Lorser Feitelson. By then the former actress signed her name simply, Elise. Cavanna and Feitelson presented only nonobjective paintings, though each worked in representational modes. Both artists were similar in "using only flat-colored, near geometrical forms", which either opposed or complemented each other. Cavanna was one of the first nonobjective painters in southern California. Each one of her pictures was brightly colored, filled with energy, and could be viewed as a separate portion of a frieze. Feitelson and Lundeberg wrote a manifesto in 1934, describing their art as post-surrealism. Their desire was to use art to communicate the connection between the conceptual and the perceptual.
Later years and death
In 1961, Cavanna co-authored a book with James Welton entitled Gourmet Cookery for a Low Fat Diet. The volume contained 200 recipes for making fatless meals.
Elise Cavanna died in Hollywood, California of cancer in 1963. She was 61.
|1926||Love 'Em and Leave 'Em||Miss Gimple|
|1931||A Melon-Drama||Alternative title: Broadway Headliners: A Melon-Drama|
|1932||The Dentist||Patient (Miss Mason)|
|1933||Infernal Machine||Bit Role||Uncredited|
|The Pharmacist||Mrs. Dilweg||Alternative title: The Druggist|
|The Big Fibber|
|The Barber Shop||Mrs. O'Hare|
|Beauty for Sale||Hat Saleslady||Uncredited|
|Static||Radio Store Customer||Uncredited|
|Day of Reckoning||Gertie||Uncredited|
|1934||Hips, Hips, Hooray!||Miss Pilot, Radio Announcer||Uncredited|
|You're Telling Me!||Sarah Smith, female gossip||Uncredited|
|Have a Heart||Genevieve, the Pianist||Uncredited|
|1935||Times Square Lady||Hosiery Saleslady||Uncredited|
|Air Hawks||First Nurse||Uncredited|
|I Dream Too Much||Darcy's Secretary||Uncredited|
|1936||Old Hutch||Travel Agency Clerk||Uncredited|
|1938||Everybody Sing||Colvin's Music Teacher||Uncredited|
|Having Wonderful Time||Office Supervisor||Uncredited|
|Three Loves Has Nancy||Third Woman on Autograph Line||Uncredited|
|1939||Naughty But Nice||Pansey, Hardwick Maid||Uncredited|
|1946||Ziegfeld Follies||Tall Woman||Uncredited|
|This article needs additional citations for verification. (August 2012)|
- The Age of Comedy: W.C. Fields Shorts 1930 - 1933, retrieved August 26, 2012.
- Doylestown Daily Intelligencer, "Book Briefs", July 3, 1961, Page 1.
- Los Angeles Times, "Two Pairs of Painters and Some Singles Offer Shows", September 17, 1933, Page A5.
- Los Angeles Times, "Art Trends Traced at Centennials Show", October 2, 1949, Page D4.
- Los Angeles Times, "Functionists' Work Hailed As Brilliant", January 17, 1954, Page E7.
- Elise Cavanna at the Internet Broadway Database
- Elise Cavanna at the Internet Movie Database
- Elise Cavanna at AllRovi
- Elise Cavanna at the Steve Turner gallery
- Elise Cavanna at Find a Grave