Giuseppina Morlacchi (October 8, 1846 – July 25, 1886) was an Italian American ballerina and dancer who introduced the can-can to the American stage, and married scout and actor Texas Jack Omohundro. She was born in Milan and attended dance school at La Scala. She debuted on the stage in 1856 at Genoa. In a short time, she became a well-known dancer, touring the continent and England. In Lisbon, she met noted artist and manager John DePol, who persuaded her to go to America.
In October 1867, she made her American debut at Banvard's Museum in New York City, performing The Devil's Auction. She became an immense success, and DePol took the show to Boston. During her rise to fame, DePol insured her legs for $100,000, after which newspapers claimed that Morlacchi was 'more valuable than Kentucky'.
From 1867 though 1872, Giuseppina traveled the United States dancing in various venues with Morlacchi Ballet Troupe which she formed, performing before various politicians and dignitaries, including the Grand Duke of Russia. On January 6, 1868, the company played at the Theatre Comique and premiered a new type of dance, billed as "...Grand Gallop Can-Can, composed and danced by Mlles. Morlacchi, Blasina, Diani, Ricci, Baretta,... accompanied with cymbals and triangles by the coryphees and corps de ballet." The new dance received an enthusiastic reception.
From then, her fame and success increased, and she played a succession of popular performances. On December 16, 1872, she was billed as a feature attraction in Ned Buntline's western drama, Scouts of the Prairie, with Buffalo Bill Cody and Texas Jack Omohundro. She and Texas Jack fell in love, and were married on August 31, 1873 at St. Mary's Catholic Church in Rochester, NY. The couple settled in a country estate in Lowell, Massachusetts with an additional home Leadville, Colorado, although she continued to perform, both with her husband in western dramas, and solo.
Following the death of her husband in 1880 in Leadville, she returned to Lowell and lived quietly with her sister. She died of cancer in 1886, and is buried at St. Patrick Cemetery in Lowell.
- Barbara Mackin Barker. The American careers of Rita Sangalli, Giuseppina Morlacchi and Maria Bonfanti: nineteenth century ballerinas. New York University, Graduate School of Arts and Science, 1981.
- Herschel C. Logan, Buckskin and Satin: The Life of Texas Jack and His Wife. Harrisburg, Pennsylvania: Stackpole, 1954.
- Lilian Moore. Morlacchi, Giuseppina. // Notable American Women, 1607—1950: A Biographical Dictionary. Harvard University Press, 1971.
Media related to Giuseppina Morlacchi at Wikimedia Commons