Sunday, April 29, 2012

Beguiling Photos: Evelyn Nesbit

Many of my film fascinations have started with a photograph, rather than a movie. Photos have the power to beguile us and leave a lasting impression long after the film has faded from memory.

Before I ever saw Garbo, Louise Brooks, Harlow or Valentino in a movie, their photographs enchanted me. Some artists, like Theda Bara, live on primarily through their photos, as most of their films are now lost.

One fascinating face that graced photos first as an artist model, next as a showgirl and finally as a tabloid star, was the infamous Evelyn Nesbit Thaw.

Famous now as "The Girl in the Red Velvet Swing," Evelyn's beauty was a the catalyst for the "murder of the century," the murder of architect Sanford White by Evelyn's husband, Harry K. Thaw. After the circus of the trial was over, Evelyn tried her hand at exploitative movies, none of which exist.
An early model for the Gibson Girl illustrations, Evelyn's sad story has faded from the front page, but, in these beautiful images, she still manages to beguile.

A lovely video tribute to Evelyn and 
a short version of her story from the 
author of "American Eve":

For more about Evelyn Nesbit Thaw, visit these sites:

The Story of Evelyn Nesbit and the Thaw-White Murder

American Experience/Murder of the Century/Love Triangle

The Sanford White Murder

A good read about Evelyn and her life and times is "American Eve" Evelyn Nesbit, Stanford White: The Birth of the "It" Girl and the Crime of the Century," by
Paula Uruburu.


  1. Wow those are beautiful photographs. I just loved this post.

  2. Thank you - she was lovely, wasn't she?

  3. "American Eve" was a fantastic book! I love the story of how Evelyn really did fall asleep on the polar bear rug. :)

  4. A really entertaining read - what a story. You can't make this stuff up!

  5. Thank you so much for this post! I loved the book because Evelyn's side of the story finally is revealed. Also, it's quite a coincidence that I read this today because I live in Pittsburgh and I was taking photos of Harry Thaw of Pittsburgh's gravesite yesterday!