Wednesday, January 11, 2017

Whatever Happened to Fifi D' Orsay?

Well...we already know what happened
to her. Fifi died in 1983. But Fifi
has a good positive life story behind
 her. And we're going to tell 
 some of it. 
To be honest, we'd never heard of
Fifi D'Orsy until a few weeks ago when
one of the networks did a retrospective
of some of her movies.
We liked her name. No one is 
named Fifi D'orsy are they?
But we decided to give her some
 celebration after we saw her act. To be
sure, she wasn't even a very good
actress. Believable enough. Still, not great.
But when she was on screen,
she commanded it. There was some quality
about Fifi that set her apart from the
others. For lack of a better term we'll
call it "Star Power". 
Fifi was born in 1903, and in 1921, or
thereabouts, found herself working as
a sales girl in her birthplace of 
Montreal, Canada. As a child, and now a
young adult, Fifi longed to be an actress
and performer. So, without one bit of 
formal training or mentoring,
she went to New York, and applied and
auditioned for a number of stage and 
cabaret musical parts with no success. And
then she found Greenwich Village, and a small
night club venue. She told the manager that
she had worked as a singer and dancer at
the Follies Bergiere in Paris, then sang
a song to him in French....Impressed,
she was hired on the spot, and was billed as
a French Chanteuse. In the process,
Fifi developed a considerable following from
the Bowery to Broadway with an impressive
reputation for hard work, solid and reliable
performances, AND the easiest and best
"PRO" to work with in the business. 
She always put "the show" ahead of her 
own stardom and comfort.
Fifi soon developed a vaudeville act and 
learned to be a journeyman level singer,
 dancer, comedian, foil, musician,
and whatever else it took to provide
entertainment. "There are only two kinds of
entertainment", she said, "GOOD and BAD!
And mine is always gonna be GOOD."
She never was great at any of it. But she
could do it all. Fifi loved to work.
And there was always
her incredible magnetic ingratiating
personality that kept audiences and 
co-workers in her corner.
In 1926, or thereabouts, Fifi was
scouted by and contracted to Hollywood.
Several studios, in fact. So Fifi became a 
silent film star. And when talkies took over,
with her background, Fifi was a natural
to move forward in the movies.
(Fifi and Will Rogers - 1929)
At the same time she built upon her reputation,
and all Hollywood wanted to work with her.
And they did. Fifi made hundreds of movies.
Sometimes she was a support player. Sometimes
she was found in 'bit' parts, and sometimes
she was the star. It didn't matter to Fifi. She
loved and wanted the work. And she worked
constantly into her older age... in film, TV, and
she even went back to Broadway where
she starred in the musical "FOLLIES"
in the 1960's.  
We found this rare video clip
of Fifi singing
from a 1932 pre-code film short.
Fifi's career spanned more than
60 years. Her movies were sometimes
good, and sometimes bad.
But Fifi was never bad. She always
made what she did better.
"When people pay their money to see me,
I owe them good entertainment. I owe
them the best I can be", 
Fifi once said.
And she always was...

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