Bert Savoy

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Bert Savoy (1876/or 1888-1923), born Everett McKenzie, was an American entertainer who specialized in cross-dressing as a vaudeville act. His comedic skits contributed to popular culture with phrases such as "You slay me" and "You don't know the half of it."[1] He often partnered with Jay Brennan on Broadway. Playbill lists Savoy and Brennan appearing on Broadway in Miss 1917, Ziegfeld Follies 1918, The Greenwich Village Follies of 1920 and The Greenwich Follies of 1922.[2] Savoy's drag queen mannerisms were an inspiration for Mae West. Savoy was a rival of sorts to the more famous Julian Eltinge, and his star was on the rise when he was struck and killed by lightning while on the beach at Long Island, New York, USA. There are several reports of his last words, one being that after a clap of thunder he said "Mercy, ain't Miss God cutting up something awful?"[3][4]

Savoy was the subject of an abstract painting by Charles Demuth, part of a series of abstract, "poster portraits" of friends and acquaintances of the artist, the most famous being I Saw the Figure 5 in Gold. The painting Calla Lilies (Bert Savoy) makes coded references to Savoy's death and life: the wave, seashell and calla lilies to his death, but the flowers also having a well-known symbolism representing sexual orientations such as bisexuality and homosexuality.[5]

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References[edit]

  1. ^ Boyd, N. A..Wide-Open Town: A History of Queer San Francisco to 1965. Berkeley: University of California Press, 2003. Project MUSE,
  2. ^ Bert Savoy Playbill.
  3. ^ Syracuse Herald: 2 ACTORS KILLED BY LIGHTINING IN STORM ON BEACH, June 27, 1923 Retrieved June 18, 2015
  4. ^ Bert Savoy ;findagrave.com Retrieved June 18, 2015
  5. ^ Calla Lilies (Bert Savoy), 1926 by Charles Demuth

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