Gilded Girls

Women Entertainers of the Old West

From Catherine Hayes, the “Irish prima donna,” and Maude Adams, “the most popular actress in America,” to the legendary Sarah Bernhardt, Gilded Girls profiles fourteen of the liveliest, wildest, and most talented female entertainers ever to light up the boards of the western frontier. You’ll meet “the Jersey Lily,” who was wildly admired by men as various Oscar Wilde, Mark Twain, Diamond Jim Brady, and Judge Roy Bean; Mrs. Leslie Carter, a scandal-plagued society women who became a famous actress as an act of revenge against her patrician ex-husband; a French-Creole beauty known as the “Frenzy of Frisco” who took up the Zionist and feminist causes in between her daring acting roles; and “Klondike Kate,” a flame-haired entertainer who took Alaska’s gold rush country by storm but suffered a very public heartbreak.
Some of the fascinating women are renowned even to this day, others are remembered only in the pages of history, but all personified the daring, colorful, and independent spirit of the Old West.