Partner Jay Brennan
Woodlawn Cemetery Bronx, Bronx County, New York, USA
Bert Savoy (1876/or 1888 - June 26, 1923), born Everett McKenzie, was an American entertainer who specialized in cross-dressing as a vaudeville act. His comedic skits contributed to popular culture with phrases such as "You slay me" and "You don't know the half of it."
In Chicago in 1904 he met and married a showgirl named Ann, who was later to run a boarding house on New York's West 49th Street. According to a Variety article in 1930, the marriage was platonic and ended in 1922 when Ann abandoned Bert robbing everything. Ann Savoy was last heard of in Chicago in July 1930, when she was arrested on a robbery charge.
He often partnered with Jay Brennan on Broadway. Savoy met Jay Brennan, another out of work vaudevillian, on a Broadway trolley car, and they decided to form an act. Playbill lists Savoy and Brennan appearing on Broadway in Miss 1917, Ziegfeld Follies 1918, The Greenwich Village Follies of 1920 and The Greenwich Follies of 1922. Savoy's drag queen mannerisms were an inspiration for Mae West.
Calla Lilies (Bert Savoy)1926 by Charles Demuth
Savoy was the subject of an abstract painting by Charles Demuth, part of a series of abstract, "poster portraits" of friends and acquaintances of the artist, the most famous being I Saw the Figure 5 in Gold. The painting Calla Lilies (Bert Savoy) makes coded references to Savoy's death and life: the wave, seashell and calla lilies to his death, but the flowers also having a well-known symbolism representing sexual orientations, such as bisexuality and homosexuality.
Savoy was a rival of sorts to the more famous Julian Eltinge, and his star was on the rise when he was struck and killed by lightning while on the beach at Long Island, New York. There are several reports of his last words, one being that after a clap of thunder, he said "Mercy, ain't Miss God cutting up something awful?" Also killed was Jack Vincent, a “chorus man”, who was walking alongside.
Brennan continued to perform until his retirement in 1945 and remained a bachelor his entire life.
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