You are here

Share Share Share Share Share Share Share

Anna Held

A scandalous figure who regularly changed details of her life to suit her image, actress Anna Held was best known for her relationship with Florenz Ziegfeld. Held sang on the streets of Paris as a child before moving to London, where she joined Jacob Adler’s Yiddish Theater. She returned to Paris and began performing in light comedy, capitalizing on her five-foot-tall body and corseted, eighteen-inch waist to play precocious urchins and ingénues. Legends abounded: that she dared American women to drive fast, that she bathed in milk and champagne, that she had captured a runaway horse. In 1894 she secretly married Maximo Carrera, a man twice her age, and had a child with him before the young Florenz Ziegfeld courted her with orchids and diamonds in 1896 and convinced her to divorce Carrera and elope to America. Ziegfeld and Held lived together for over a decade, separating around 1908. Some credit her with helping Ziegfeld create his famous Follies. From 1896–1918, Held performed in comedies and musicals, making her American debut in 1896 with A Parlor Match, which Ziegfeld had revived. Held died young, from anemia and bronchial pneumonia, but many believed that the real cause was her trademark tight corsets.

Held, Anna 1 - still image [media]
Full image

All that is certain about Anna Held's life is that she was flamboyant and very successful. A comedian of international status, she playfully toyed with her public both on- and off-stage, employing outrageous stunts and gimmicks to garner publicity. This photo was taken on March 10, 1900.

Institution: Library of Congress

Date of Birth
March 18, 1873
Place of Birth
Warsaw
Date of Death
August 12, 1918
Occupations

How to cite this page

Jewish Women's Archive. "Anna Held." (Viewed on November 28, 2014) <http://jwa.org/people/held-anna>.

Donate

Help us elevate the voices of Jewish women.

donate now

Sign Up for JWA eNews

 

Discover Education Programs

Join our growing community of educators.

view programs