Main Details







Anna Held [edit]

Performer, Lyricist, Composer

Born [edit]

8 Mar 1872 Warsaw, POLAND

Died [edit]

12 Aug 1918 New York, New York USA

Relations: [edit]

1. Mother of Liane Held Carrera 2. Wife of Florenz Ziegfeld Jr. (1897 - 1913) divorced 3. Wife of Maximo Carrera (1894 - 1908) his death

Anna Held [edit]

Performance Artist -

Born [edit]

8 March 1872 Warsaw Poland

Died [edit]

12 August 1918 New York City, New York USA

Married [edit]

1) Maximo Carrera, 2) Florenz Ziegfeld {common law}

Mother of [edit]

actress Liane Held Carrera

Helene Anna Held [edit]

was born in Warsaw, Poland on March 8th, 1872 (one possible date - accounts vary). She was the youngest of seven children born to jewish parents - Shimmle Held and his French born wife Yvonne Pierre. All of her siblings died young. Whilst Anna was still a small child the family fled Poland because of anti-semitic riots and organised persecution of the jews there.

Establishing his family [edit]

in the Fourth Arondissement in Paris, Anna's father ran a small glovemaking business, and later a little restaurant, both of which failed whereupon he took a job as a janitor. As soon as she was old enough, Anna was put to work to help make ends meet, cleaning and curling feathers after school hours, and later in a shop making buttonholes. Sometimes she would sing in the streets to make a few extra coppers and even found work in local jewish theatres.

Her father died in hospital [edit]

(probably from alcoholism) in 1884, and her mother then took young Anna to London in search of relatives she had there. She and Anna took up residence in a small room adjacent to the Princess Theatre in Oxford Street, where Anna obtained a place for herself in the chorus. At that time she could not yet speak English, but had a talent for languages having already learned not only to French and Polish but German and Spanish as well.

Four years after their arrival in England [edit]

, Anna's mother died of consumption, and Anna was taken in by her Aunt who could not control the headstrong girl and soon washed her hands of her. Anna then went to Holland with the theatre company, leaving them in Amsterdam where she found work singing chansonettes in a music hall. She continued her solo success in Rotterdam, Christiania, Den Haag, and a number of German cities before eventually finding herself back in Paris, singing in revue's at El Dorado and La Scala.

At some point [edit]

she met and had an affair with a wealthy South American adventurer, Maximo Carrera, and they married in order to legitimize the birth of their daughter, Liane sometime around 1895. The child was consigned to a convent in Paris, and the parents resumed their former lives.

chorus of
Won't You Come and Play With Me
I wish you'd come and play wiz me,
For I have such a way wiz me,
A way wiz me, a way wiz me.
I have such a nice little way wiz me,
Do not tink it wrong.

Returning to London in 1896 [edit]

, Anna was engaged at the Palace Music Hall where the manager, Mr. Plumpton, persuaded her to attempt a song in English for the first time. Her English was still imperfect, but her thick Parisienne accent only added to the charm and sensousness of the piece. The song was "Won't You Come and Play Wiz Me" and it was an enormous success. One night she was heard by the American impresario Florenz Ziegfeld, who was just starting of his career and had come to Europe in search of a star. So certain was he his search was complete that he offered her a Prince's ransom to come to America to appear in an upcoming Broadway production.

Anna accepted [edit]

, not least because it was an opportunity to get away from her husband's mounting gambling debts, the couple had by now gone their seperate ways but as his wife she was still responsible for his debts. Consequently, she soon found herself aboard ship bound for New York, causing her to break an engagement with the Folies Bergere who demanded a hefty payoff for the loss of her services. Ziegfeld having the money wired from America. Ziegfeld was a master manipulator of the press, and contrived to get Anna's name and photograph in every newspaper in New York, so that by the time she arrived, before she had even sung a note, she was already a bigger 'star' there than in Europe.

She made her first appearance on Broadway [edit]

singing her London song in Ziegfeld's "The Parlor Match". New York audiences were shocked by it's daring, but they loved her sultry French accent, hourglass figure, and coquettish personality with the seductive roll of her eyes. She received rave reviews, and her success on that continent was assured. Over the next few years a string of major successes followed which, as well as cementing Ziegfeld's fortune and reputation, made Anna a millionaire in her own right. These included; "Papa's Wife," "The Little Duchess," "Mlle. Napoleon," and "The Parisian Model".

Since her arrival in America [edit]

, Anna had been living with Ziegfeld, and at a dinner party around a year later the couple announced to their friends that they were man and wife. It is uncertain however whether this was ever legitimised with a marriage ceremony. Max Carrera died in 1908, but there is no evidence that Anna divorced him before then, as she would have had to do to marry Ziegfeld.

Ziegfeld soon developed a reputation [edit]

for ingenious publicity stunts, and Anna in particular he publicised relentlessly, convincing the press that she bathed daily in milk. When her stage career faltered, he put her on the Vaudeville circuit and she was a hit all over again. In 1905, Anna proposed that Ziegfeld stage his own version of the Folies Bergere and so the famous Ziegfeld Follies were born, heralding the most lucrative phase of his career - beginning with the Follies of 1907, starring of course Anna herself.

But Ziegfeld's had a wandering eye [edit]

, and within a few years it had wandered elsewhere. He began a wideley publicised affair with the actress Lilliane Lorraine who sang the famous 'bubble song' in the Follies of 1909. At first Anna turned a blind eye to his indiscretions, but eventually they became too blatant. The crisis point was reached in 1910 when Ziegfeld installed his mistress in the same hotel in which he shared a suite with Anna. Perhaps in an attempt to smooth things over, Ziegfeld secretly brought Anna's daughter Liane over to New York for a surprise visit - Anna adored her daughter, although she saw little of her.

Liane was almost at the end of her convent education [edit]

, and when she evinced a desire to take to the stage, Anna was firmly against it. But Liane was her mother's daughter and would not be swayed. Anna relented, and arrangements were made for Liane to be enrolled at the Paris Conservatory, where she would study under Professor Signoret to prepare for a musical career. On graduation, in 1913, she came to America and started her career in Vaudeville where, much to her chagrin since she wanted to succeed on her own, managers would insist on billing her as "Anna Held Jr." or "Anna Held's Daughter," since this was certain to swell an audience. But she had all of her mother's beauty charm and talent, and her first success quite fittingly was singing "I've got my mothers big blue eyes."

Anna's personal relationship with Ziegfeld meanwhile assumed something of an on-off nature, until she could forgive him no more and the couple split for good in 1912 - although she would still continue to appear in Ziegfeld productions. In 1914, Ziegfeld married Billy Burke, and the absence of any evidence of divorce proceedings against Anna reinforces the suggestion that their 'marriage' was no more than a common law arrangement - since a divorce between two such prominent characters could hardly have helped but be messy and very public.

When War broke out [edit]

, Anna was working in Vaudeville, but she soon found herself in France, drawn to help her homeland in any way she could in its hour of need. She organised a company of theatrical stars and went through France, appearing at the hospitals to cheer up the wounded soldiers, and at benefits to raise money for their care and comfort. To the soldiers she was a heroine, because of her courage and willingness to visit them in the front lines. Indeed this was almost her undoing, for on one occasion her car strayed behind the German lines and she was captured by a squad of German soldiers. She was treated with great suspicion until a German officer examined her passport and recognised her. From then on her captors became most courteous and, after distributing a quantity of cigarettes from her motor car among the soldiers in the German trenches, she was escorted back to safety and released.

After two years of war work [edit]

, she felt she had to escape the horrors of war and returned to America where, in association with the Messrs. Schubert she organised her own musical comedy spectacular, "Follow Me". It was an enormous success in New York in 1917, widely regarded as being the biggest and best attraction in which she had ever appeared, with a fine cast, elaborate scenery and a gorgeous wardrobe. She took the show on tour but, after suddenly collapsing on stage in Milwaukee in January 1918, she quickly became desperately ill. Liane, who had her understudy, took over her mother's part as the tour continued without her.

Anna was diagnosed with [edit]

multiple myeloma, a rare disease that destroys the bone marrow and seriously compromises the immune system. After a prolonged illness, when her doctors told her she could not recover, she took the new stoically, proclaiming "I will hold out to the last, but it is more difficult to live than to die." Then she telephoned many of her friends to inform them that there was no hope. She vowed that she would hold on until the hated invaders were driven from her beloved France and her homeland was whole again, but sadly she was unable to keep her promise. Anna Held died of pneumonia, a complication of her illness, on August 12th, 1918 - it would be another three months before the War ended. Shortly before her death, however, she was awarded a bronze medal by the Serbian government in recognition of her courageous and noble work for the allies during the first two years of the war.

She had spent [edit]

the final weeks of her life confined to her bed in her apartment at the Savoy hotel in New York, and for much of the week immediately prior to her death had drifted in and out of consciousness. Then, at around four o'clock on that fateful day, her daughter Liane standing vigil at her bedside called to the attending physician, Dr. E. M. Overton, that she had stopped breathing. The doctor examined Anna and pronounced her dead, and the news was released to the press of her passing. But two hours later, mourners were astonished to see that her eyes had opened, her chest was slowly rising and falling, and that she was breathing again. The doctor re-examined her and declared that she was indeed alive. But after a few minutes any hopes of miraculous recovery were dashed when all sign of life faded again. This time she truly was deceased.

Anna is interred [edit]

at the Cemetery of the Gate of Heaven in Hawthorne, New York.

In November 1904 [edit]

, Anna's chauffer, George Mack, was arrested for felonious assault over an accident which occurred whilst driving Miss Held's motor car. The incident involved a man who had been thrown from his wagon when it was struck by another motor car, and who was then subsequently hit and seriously injured by Miss Held's motor car, driven by Mack. Mack admitted his part in the incident and that he had been speeding at 40mph. He said that he had struck an object in the road, but in the darkness could not see what it was and had continued on his way. He was arrested at his home. He refused to divulge the name of his female passenger at the time of the accident but it could not have been Miss Held.

Anna Held [edit]

Performance Artist -

Born [edit]

March 8, 1872 in Warsaw, Poland, Russian Empire [now Warsaw, Mazowieckie, Poland]

Died [edit]

August 12, 1918 in New York City, New York, USA (multiple myeloma)

Birth Name [edit]

Helene Anna Held

Height [edit]

5' 1" (1.55 m)

Spouse (2) [edit]

Maximo Carrera (1894 - 23 April 1908) (his death) (1 child)
Florenz Ziegfeld {common law}

Trivia (3) [edit]

Held donated the $30,000 she earned for Madame la Presidente (1916) to the Allied Relief Fund.
Daughter with Maximo Carrera: Liane Held Carrera
Longtime companion of Florenz Ziegfeld Jr. (1897 - 1913). They never officially married.
Personal Quotes (1)
There is no glory in war. You should be so prepared that war will never be necessary; that it will never be necessary to send your young men forth to pour out their life's blood in a useless conflict.
Salary (1)
Madame la Presidente (1916) $30,000

First Name
Last Name
Full Name at Birth
Helene Anna Held
Other Names
Helene Anna Held
Anna Held
46 (age at death)
Date of Birth
Date of Death
Location of Death
Cause of Death
Cemetery of the Gate of Heaven
Eye Color
Hair Color
Star Sign
Actress, singer
Occupation Category
Claim to Fame
I Just Can`t Make My Eyes Behave
Measurements (inches)
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