How could anyone forget her elegance, her charm? She was the most memorable supper club entertainer of the 20th century. She knew how to dazzle. How to intoxicate. She was the cabaret nightingale whose elegant piano and vocal style, combined with flirty banter and a champagne smile, made her an icon of nightclub sophistication for decades. She was known simply as "The Incomparable Hildegarde," a title bestowed on her by columnist Walter Winchell. By the late 1940s Hildegarde was the highest-paid cabaret singer in the world. Her style of entertaining — a classy yet personal mix of heartfelt song and intimate, chatty conversational style — was successful enough for long runs at swanky, intimate New York City venues: the Savoy-Plaza; the Persian Room of the Plaza Hotel; the Cotillion Room of the Hotel Pierre. Eleanor Roosevelt dubbed her "First Lady of the Supper Clubs." Cabaret legend, Bobby Short, once said, "Hers was the slickest nightclub act of all time."
Among celebrities of the mass-media age, Hildegarde popularized the mono-monogram. She was mother to all the one-namers — from Cher and Sting to Prince, and Madonna. And for a time, she was hotter than all those single-named performers combined. The Gershwins wrote songs for her, and Revlon introduced shades of Hildegarde lipstick. The name "Hildegarde" was both literally and figuratively on everyone's lips. She spoke and sang with a vaguely European accent, carefully separating words into their component syllables as if testing them for weight and juiciness. A noted flirt, Hildegarde wore long, opera gloves and exchanged flip quips while parceling out long-stemmed roses to men in tuxedos. Tastefully, of course. People who care about such things will tell you she refused anything second-rate. She called a decidedly pink 10-room apartment in Manhattan's Plaza Hotel home, and traveled with thirty-two pieces of luggage, including a specially-built six-foot trunk for forty evening gowns and special cases for two hundred pairs of gloves. Glamour and charm and a hint of seduction have never before or since been better combined.
Her Signature Was Her Logo. Offered here: framed photograph of Hildegarde (12" x 16" overall), with personal autograph in her unmistakable handwriting. That "E" at the end of her name really takes off. Dated June 30, 1960.
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