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2000/66/53 Bra top, lamé / cotton / metal, used by Annette Kellerman, USA / England, 1920-1940. Click to enlarge.

Bra top used by Annette Kellerman

Made in United States, North and Central America, 1920-1940.

This garment 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 world ...

Summary

Object No.

2000/66/53

Object Statement

Bra top, lamé / cotton / metal, used by Annette Kellerman, USA / England, 1920-1940

Physical Description

Gold and green lamé bra top with thin straps which tie around the neck. V-neck with a slight gather at the centre front. Lined with blue cotton. Bra top fastens at the centre back with two small metal hook and eye closures.

Marks

No marks

Dimensions

Height

540 mm

Width

860 mm

Production

History

Notes

This bra top was used by Annette Kellerman throughout her stage career between 1920-1940.

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

Bra top used by Annette Kellerman 2019, Museum of Applied Arts & Sciences, accessed 16 October 2019, <https://ma.as/9262>

Wikipedia

{{cite web |url=https://ma.as/9262 |title=Bra top used by Annette Kellerman |author=Museum of Applied Arts & Sciences |access-date=16 October 2019 |publisher=Museum of Applied Arts & Sciences, Australia}}

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