Maud Allan

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Maud Allan (born Beulah Maude Durrant circa August 27, 1873; died October 7, 1956 in Los Angeles, California) was an actress and dancer.

Maude Allan as Salome with the head of John the Baptist

Contents

Early life

Maud Allan was born in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. Sources give conflicting years for her birth date, ranging from 1873 through 1880. She spent her early years in San Francisco, California, where she studied music from a young age. Around the turn of the century she moved to Europe, and was accepted in 1895 by the Hochschule für Musik in Berlin. She later changed her name, at least in part prompted by the scandal surrounding her brother Theodore Durrant.

In April of 1896, the bodies of two young women had been discovered in San Francisco's Emmanuel Baptist Church, where Theo Durrant was the assistant Sunday School superintendent. The grisly murders, which were compared to the crimes of Jack the Ripper, received sensational and sometimes speculative coverage in the California press. Over 3,600 potential jurors needed to be examined before twelve could be chosen to hear the case. Durrant was found guilty of the murders in November of 1896, and hanged at San Quentin January 7, 1898.[1]

Stage and dance career

In 1900, in need of money, Allan published an illustrated sex manual for women, titled Illustriertes Konversations-Lexikon der Frau. Shortly thereafter she began dancing professionally. Although athletic, and having great imagination, she had no formal training to any great extent. She was once compared to professional dancer and legend Isadora Duncan, which greatly enraged her, as she disliked Duncan. [2]

She designed and often sewed her own costumes, which were creative. In 1906 her production "Vision of Salomé" debuted in Vienna. Based loosely on Oscar Wilde's Salomé, her version of the Dance of the Seven Veils became famous (or to some notorious), and she was billed as "The Salomé Dancer". Her book "My Life and Dancing" was published in 1908, and that same year she took England by storm in a tour in which she performed an amazing 250 performances in less than one years' time. [3]

In 1910 she left Europe to travel abroad. She travelled to the United States, Australia, Africa, and Asia over the next 5 years. In 1915 she starred as "Demntra" in the silent film, The Rug Maker's Daughter.

"The Cult of the Clitoris" libel case

In 1918 she sued British Member of Parliament (MP) Noel Pemberton-Billing on the following charges of criminal libel:

  • 1. The act of publishing a defamatory article about Maud Allan and Mr J T Grein, her impresario.
  • 2. The separate offense act of including obscenities within the article.

Allan lost the case. Her trial became entangled in obscenity charges brought forth by the state against the performance given by Allan in her Vision of Salomé dance. She was accused of practising many of the sexually charged acts depicted (or implied) in Wilde's writings herself, including necrophilia. At this time, the Lord Chamberlain's ban on public performances of the underlying Salomé play was still in place in England, and the Salomé dance was at risk.

From the 1920s on Allan taught dance. [4]

She is often confused with Maude Allen - a character actor with a similar name film who appeared in Hollywood in the 1930s, including small roles in the 1936 film of "Show Boat" and the 1936 film "San Francisco", and playing "Dutchess" in the 1940 serial The Adventures of Red Ryder.

Maud Allan died October 7, 1956 in Los Angeles, California.

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