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2000/66/118 Photograph, print on paper, Annette Kellerman, paper, USA, 1914-1920. Click to enlarge.

Annette Kellerman photograph

Made 1914-1920

This photograph is part of a substantial collection of costumes and props used by Annette Kellerman (1886-1975). She became an international celebrity as an endurance swimmer, an entertainer of the vaudeville stage and a star of American silent films. She played a key role in popularising the one-piece swimsuit for women.

Born in Sydney, Kellerman took up swimming as a child to strengthen her semi-crippled legs. She became a champion, setting a New South Wales record for the 100 yards and a wor...

Summary

Object No.

2000/66/118

Object Statement

Photograph, print on paper, Annette Kellerman, paper, USA, 1914-1920

Physical Description

Large black and white photographic print on paper depicting Annette Kellerman standing naked with her long hair covering her body, in the centre of a giant floating clam shell. The clam shell is elegantly draped with seaweed and features four naked winged infants sounding trumpets around her. At the base of the shell six mermaids floating in the water gaze up at Kellerman. Caption at the bottom reads, 'MISS KELLERMAN COMBINED THE ROMANCE OF MYTHOLOGY / WITH THE MYSTERY OF THE SEA IN THE NEW AQUATIC / DRAMA'.

Marks

Inscription on reverse, handwritten in lead pencil 'HA1.9'.

Dimensions

Height

507 mm

Width

405 mm

Production

Notes

This photograph was taken between 1914-1930.

Made

1914-1920

History

Notes

Annette Kellerman kept a large collection of theatrical and aquatic memorabilia from her long career. In 1975, while living in retirement on the Gold Coast, she saw a segment on ABC-TV's 'This Day Tonight' about the recently created performing arts archive at the Sydney Opera House. Having learnt to swim at Cavill's Baths in Farm Cove, near where the Opera House now stands, she decided this was the appropriate repository for her collection. She asked her sister Marcelle to ring the Opera House to make an offer of donation. Marcelle spoke to Barbara Firth, a member of the Ladies Committee of the Sydney Opera House Appeal Fund and an honorary coordinator of the performing arts archive. Frank Barnes, the Opera House's general manager, agreed that the opportunity to acquire the collection should not be missed. In September 1975 Barbara Firth spent five days on the Gold Coast with Annette Kellerman and took possession of the entire collection on behalf of the Opera House. A furniture van was needed to transport the seven large cabin trunks that held the large collection. Within weeks Kellerman had passed away, on 6 November 1975.

In the late 1990s the objects in the Annette Kellerman collection were transferred from the Dennis Wolanski Library and Archive of Performing Arts at the Sydney Opera House, to the Powerhouse Museum. The collection's paper material, including photographs, was transferred to the State Library of New South Wales. Barbara Firth's biography of Kellerman, written with Emily Gibson and titled 'The Original Million Dollar Mermaid' was published by Allen & Unwin in 2005.

Source

Credit Line

Gift of the Dennis Wolanski Library, Sydney Opera House, 2000

Acquisition Date

24 May 2000

Cite this Object

Harvard

Annette Kellerman photograph 2019, Museum of Applied Arts & Sciences, accessed 20 September 2019, <https://ma.as/9171>

Wikipedia

{{cite web |url=https://ma.as/9171 |title=Annette Kellerman photograph |author=Museum of Applied Arts & Sciences |access-date=20 September 2019 |publisher=Museum of Applied Arts & Sciences, Australia}}

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