Who Were They?

Lost and forgotten photos from the past

This lovely image is the vaudeville actress Irene D’Arville. She was popular around 1910, being featured on the cover of a magazine in December 1909 and was active at least up until 1914 when she had a playlet copyrighted (it was a comedy entitled The Men Next Door). I have only found two other photos of her, although that could just be today’s search results. Google sometimes confuses me how the same search on a different day will return different results. There may have been a family of D’Arvilles in the business, as there are many different vaudevillians with that last name.

Anyway, the photo is about a 5×7, taken by the Otto Sorony Co photograph studio. There is a great story behind the studio. Napoleon Sarony was a renowed photographer in the post Civil War period up through the turn of the century. His son Otto worked alongside him in the studio, although Napoleon only posed the sitters while uncredited photographers made the images and processed them. Napoleon dominated the market for celebrity photos and was known as an eccentric. Upon his death 1896, his son Otto was willed the business with a stipulation that he operate it for 15 years and only earned $75 per week (quite a lot at that time). Otto was apparently unhappy about these stipulations and sold the business brand Sorony Studios to a new owner. Later, having decided that he wasn’t making yet enough money, he sold his name to a different photographer. Between 1901 and 1909 or so, photos made under the Otto Sorony Co name were neither overseen by Otto, nor photographed by him. He died in 1903 of pneumonia before the two photographers using the Sorony name in some way ever finished their court battles over the name.

One thought on “Irene D’Arville

  1. She is certainly all decked out with lots of Jewelry! The flowers at the front of her dress are interesting..not quite a corsage and almost a bouquet..I have a few photos like that too..but the dresses are not near as fancy. Great old photo:)


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