The Girl In The Yellow Kimono

Charles Dana Gibson

Sometimes the drama
value of real-life
completely surpasses
anything to be found
on the silver-screen ..

— and when you
mix the two —

well, it can get very,
very dramatic indeed.

Such is the true story
of Miss Evelyn Nesbit,
chorus girl, model,
and early silent-
movie actress –

– a tale of seduction,Image result for why thaw shot white postcard
jealousy, insanity,
and murder.

Yep =>
murder…

and not one of those
‘behind-the-scenes so-it-
can-be-covered-up’ kind,
either —

A murder right out in
public in front of a lot
of rich poncey-ass
millionaires.

Wait, I guess I’m
getting ahead of
myself a bit.

We’ll start with the
ingenue of our story –
a young lady born
outside of Pittsburgh
in 1884 by the name
of Florence Evelyn Nesbit.

Her father died
at a very early age,
and her mother was forced
to take employment at a
famous department store
in Philadelphia (Wanamakers)
to support the family.

At 14, Evelyn (still going
by ‘Florence Evelyn’) went to
work there as well….

…. and was soon spotted
by a female artist,
who asked her mother
if she could utilize Flossie
as a model.

Howard Chandler Christie

Mother Nesbit was hesitant,
but badly needed the money,
so she approved the session –
which was for 5 hours,
and paid $1.00.

That was pretty good
money for those days –
and it wasn’t long

James Carroll Beckwith

before other artists —
— good ones —
were clamoring to
paint the beautiful
and charming
young girl.

Between 1899, and 1901,
Flossie’s reputation
spread to the point
that she had
acquired a position
as an artists posing
model for the Artists
Students League in
New York City.
(Where they make
the salsa)

Irving Ramsey Wiles

She also joined the chorus
line of the
Casino Theatre
on Broadway, where,
after being dubbed
“Flossie The Fuss”
by several of her fellow
cast members, she decided
to change her professional
name to Evelyn.

And she soon became
one of the most well-known
faces in the media of the time –

– she was painted,
drawn, photographed –

– and after a session with
Charles Dana Gibson
in 1905, she became
an original “Gibson Girl ”
in a very popular piece
called
” Women:
The Eternal Question ” .

Her image became ubiquitous –
– appearing on everything
from song sheets and
tobacco cards —

— to ladies toiletries
and beer trays.

She also appeared on
calendars for products
ranging from
Prudential Insurance
and Coca-Cola, et al.

In general, the tone of
the artworks featuring
Miss Nesbit at the time
projected the era’s
penchant for
‘wholesomeness’
and ‘innocence’.

Unfortunately,
during this time,
she also met a man
who would
drastically change her life –

– a famous architect and
notorious philanderer
named Stanford White.

White , under the pretense
of ‘taking her under his wing’,
set Evelyn and her mother up
in a lavish apartment in the
Wellington Hotel, and
proceeded to promote
her career, and of course,
to seduce the young ingenue.

One of the tactics he used
was to invite Evelyn
( and her mother ) up
to his lavish, multi-level
hotel suite, where he
gave them the ‘grand tour’ –

— he then showed them
into a room decorated
in green velour, with a
large red velvet swing
decorated with ivy,
suspended in the
middle of the room.

This red velvet swing
would become notorious,
and was used as the title
for a 1955 movie about
Evelyn Nesbit’s life –
called ” The Girl In The
Red Velvet Swing “.

Although nothing ‘untoward’
actually happened on that visit,
it wasn’t long before White
convinced Mother Nesbit to
take a long deserved vacation
on his dime, and to leave
Evelyn in his protection.

Several days after she left,
Evelyn was invited to
White’s hotel again,
and this time the tour
included a room
not previously revealed –
– a 10 foot by 10 foot room
completely paneled from
floor to ceiling with mirrors,
with a green velvet sofa in
the center.

There, White plied Evelyn
with champagne,
( a good deal of it )
and she soon
found herself completely
at his mercy,
clothed only in a
brilliant yellow kimono.

At some point, she claims
to have lost consciousness.

According to Evelyn’s
own account of that
night was that:
” she entered that
room as a virgin “,
but did not come
out as one.

Afterwards,
Evelyn and White
decided to keep their
now on-going affair a secret,
so as not to damage her
public persona.

And of course, soon enough,
White tired of his conquest
and left Evelyn
for greener pastures
(or greener velour,
who knows).

Now, so far, this story
has gone pretty much
like a badly written
melodrama, and the
reader might be pardoned
for thinking that they’ve
seen this kinda things
plenty of times before.

Oh sure –
– but wait –
there’s more.

Enter another
millionaire maniac,
this one with a major
obsession about the
‘sanctity of virginity’–
named Harry Kendall Thaw.

Thaw got the idea that,
judging from all the media,
Evelyn would be the
perfect virgin bride to
fulfill his fantasies,
and he makes an all-out
effort to get her to marry him.

He pursues her relentlessly,
and catches up with her
at a clinic in Paris
(where she is allegedly
secretly having an abortion,
after an affair with John Barrymore)

-he presses her again for marriage,
and she finally breaks down
and tells him that:
when plied with champagne,
Nesbit lay intoxicated,
and unconscious, while
White “had his way with her.”

Thaw somehow convinces
her to accompany him on
a whirlwind European tour,
during which time he
subjected her to several
very strange travel ‘hot-spots’ –

— including Domrémy, the
birthplace of the
“Maid Of Orleans”
Jeanne d’Arc –

and Katzenstein Castle in Germany,
where he imprisoned her for
several weeks while he lived
out a Marquis DeSade type
fantasy- brutally beating and
sexually assaulting her.

And then, just as suddenly
as his evil streak had come
over him, it was gone,
and he was back to his
old mild-mannered self ,
seemingly .

Thaw even accompanied
Evelyn back to the
United States,
still begging her
to marry him.

As time passed ,
Evelyn realized
that White no longer
cared for her,
and that she was in danger
of returning to the days of
scrounging for a living,
so, after four years
and many assurances
on Thaw’s part, she consented
to marry him, on the
strict condition that
he would never be
cruel to her again.

They moved into his
mansion in Pittsburgh
( called “Lyndhurst” )
and life proceeded
rather normally,
for a while.

In the summer of 1906,
the couple decided to
embark on a cruise to Europe,
and stopped in New York
to that end.

The night before departure,
they went to a show —

And there, in the rooftop
theater of Madison
Square Garden–
during a performance of
“Mam’zelle Champagne”,
Thaw noted the presence
of the accused rapist
(and his self declared
arch-nemesis) Stanford White
at the opposite side of the room.

Whether White knew
just how much animosity
Thaw had built up in his
mind against him
no one really knows–

but he made no defensive
move as Thaw approached him –

– Thaw simply walked up to
him and shot White several
times through the head,
screaming:
You ruined my wife “.

White was dead
before he hit the floor.

A media circus the likes
of which had never been
seen before that time ensued —

And a trial ,
dubbed
” The Trial Of The Century”.

Well, there were actually two…
both of which required Evelyn
to recount , in great detail,
the ‘whole story’.

But, well, that’s another
post altogether.

In the end…….

The lunatic Thaw went to
the looney bin, was later
released, only to sexually
assault a young man
named Frederick Gump
and be re-institutionalized.

And it turned out that
he had been abusing
prostitutes as early as 1902.

The murdered guy,
Stanford White,
remains on
the deceased list
as of this writing.

And Evelyn retired 
from modeling
and acting in 1918.

She opened a speakeasy
in Manhattan in 1920,
and then went into
burlesque
in the 1930’s.

During World War II,
she taught art and
sculpture classes
in Los Angeles,

— and died
at the age of 82, in 1967.

so–

How’s that for drama ?