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GIUSEPPINA MORLACCHI

Giuseppina “Peerless” Morlacchi (1843 - July 25, 1886) was an Italian-American ballerina who introduced the French Can-Can to the American stage.  Giuseppina was born in Milan and attended dance school at La Scala theatre where she studied with Carlo Blasis and Augusto Hus. She became a well-known dancer in Europe at a very young age. In Lisbon, she met artist and manager John DePol who convinced her to go with him to America.

In October 1867, she made her American debut at Banvard's Museum in New York City, performing The Devil's Auction. It was a success:  DePol took the show to Boston and insured Giuseppina‘s legs for $100,000 after which newspapers claimed ‘Morlacchi was more valuable than Kentucky’.

Giuseppina became a choreographer and founded her own dance company, the Morlacchi Ballet Troupe. On January 6, 1868, the company played at the Theatre Comique and premiered a new type of dance, billed as "...Grand Gallop Can-Can, composed and danced by Mademoiselle Morlacchi, Blasina, Diani, Ricci, Baretta,... accompanied with cymbals and triangles by the coryphées and corps de ballet."

Giuseppina was also an advocate for the rights of dancers and actors, often mistreated and underpaid if they were not famous. Although she was a star, she did not behave like one; she saved money and bought a farm in Billerica, next to Lowell, Massachusetts, where she spent her time off with her sister Angelina.

On December 16, 1872, she was billed as a feature attraction in Ned Buntline's western drama, “Scouts of the Prairie”, with Buffalo Bill Cody and Texas Jack Omohundro.

Giuseppina and Texas Jack fell in love, and were married on August 31, 1873. The couple settled in her farm, though she continued to perform both with her husband in western dramas and solo.

The Rochester Democrat and Chronicle published this announcement of their marriage:
“Last winter fortune decreed that the charming and famous danseuse, Mlle. Morlacchi, and John B. Omohundro, known through the country as “Texas Jack,” should meet in the city of Chicago. It proved to be a case of love at first sight. The fair actress immediately took a liking to the gallant scout of the prairies, the renowned Indian fighter and buffalo hunter.

The affection ripened, until it took the form of a declaration of love on the part of Mr. Omohundro, which resulted yesterday in a ceremony which made the twain one. Our citizens who have been delighted for the past fortnight with the graceful acting of Mlle Morlacchi need no description of her personal appearance.”

“For the benefit of outsiders, however, we may say that she is a native of Italy, and was born in Milan, about twenty-five years ago. Like most of her countrywomen, she is a brunette, whose personal beauty is heightened by a grace of manner that is unsurpassed. She is a highly educated lady and such as have been fortunate enough to gain her personal acquaintance are loud in their praises of her accomplishments and character.”

“The man of her choice is a magnificent specimen of physical manhood. He is about six feet in height and of the finest proportions. A native of Virginia, born in 1846, the blood of Powhatan flows in his veins, and the aquiline nose, jet black hair, erect form, and piercing eye of that famed warrior are reproduced in the gallant ‘Texas Jack.’”

While on tour in Colorado, tragedy struck: Jack died of pneumonia on June 28, 1880 when he was only 33 years old.

Giuseppina stopped touring, she returned to Lowell and lived a quiet life with her sister Angelina. She taught dance to underprivileged children and volunteered her time for social services.

A few years later, Angelina suffered a stroke and subsequent paralysis; she died on August 18, 1885.  Meanwhile, Giuseppina was bedridden with stomach cancer and she died on July 23, 1886, at 43.  Both sisters are buried at St. Patrick's Cemetery in Lowell.

SOURCE:

WIKIPEDIA

http://library.uml.edu/clh/Texas/T2.Html

http://texasjack.org/wp/?page_id=18

IMAGES:

http://john-adcock.blogspot.com/2012/02/texas-jack-omohundro-1846-1880.html