Category Archives: Flash Briefings

Dora Hand - Empowered Women in History - Historical Fiction Author Kari Bovee

Flash Briefing: Dora Hand

Join host Kari Bovee, award-winning author of historical fiction as she shares stories of strong women of history combined with mysteries of the past.

>> Listen to Flash briefing HERE. <<

What woman could inspire four of Dodge City’s legendary lawmen to come together to find a killer? A beautiful songbird named Dora Hand.

Born between 1840 and 1844, Dora Hand came from a prominent Boston family. She is said to have studied music in Europe and had once performed opera in New York City. She married a musician named Ted Hand, but the relationship did not last.

Suffering from tuberculosis, Dora moved west for the dry air. She settled in Dodge City, Kansas, and the town was instantly smitten. Described as beautiful and gifted, legend has it that attentions for her favor caused more gunfights than any other woman in the west.

One of her most ardent admirers was James Kelley, also known as Dog Kelley, the mayor ofDora Hand - Empowered Women in History - Historical Fiction Author Kari Bovee Dodge and part-owner of the Alhambra Saloon and Gambling House. Dora sang every night at the Alhambra, and also sang at the Lady Gay Dance Hall and Saloon. She earned upwards of $75 per week.

Sweet natured and generous, Dora gave much back to the community through charity and good works. But, despite her benevolence, she still encountered her fair share of jealous and ill-meaning followers. Some thought her an angel, and others thought her a whore.

A Reverend Mr. Wright, a local pastor, both confounded and delighted his flock when he invited Dora to sing weekly at his Sunday evening services. Like her or not, every Sunday night the church was packed to hear the lovely Dora sing.

One of Dora’s admirers was Spike Kennedy, the son of a wealthy Texas cattle rancher. Spoiled and not adhering to his father’s Quaker sensibilities, or his mother’s Catholic devotion, Spike was, in short, a hell-raiser who loved drinking, gambling and whoring, and who felt he was above the law because of Daddy’s money—which, ultimately he was.

One night, after much drinking at the AlhamDora Hand - Empowered Women in History - Historical Fiction Author Kari Boveebra, Spike turned his attention to Dora. Dog Kelley threw him out on his ear. Humiliated, Spike would have his revenge. On an early October morning, Spike fired two shots into the thin walls of Kelley’s cabin. Little did he know, the mayor had gone to nearby Fort Dodge to visit a doctor for a stomach ailment. Sleeping in a bed in the back room of the cabin, was Dora. The second bullet zinged through the door, then the interior wall, and hit Dora in the side, killing her instantly.

Dodge’s renown lawmen, Wyatt Earp, Bat Masterson, Charlie Bassett and Bill Tilghman set out to find Spike. They did, but he didn’t hang. His father somehow bought him an acquittal, and the court cited “lack of evidence.”

Dora’s funeral drew one of the biggest turnouts Dodge City had ever seen. It was said the town shut down for her funeral and 400 men rode behind the wagon carrying Dora’s body up Boot Hill for burial.

If you love tales of the old west, you might enjoy my Annie Oakley Mystery Series. You  can find the books on Amazon.

Eleanor Dumont - Empowered Women in History - Historical Fiction Author Kari Bovee

Flash Briefing: Eleanor Dumont

Join host Kari Bovee, award-winning author of historical fiction as she shares stories of strong women of history combined with mysteries of the past.

Eleanor Dumont - Empowered Women in History - Historical Fiction Author Kari Bovee>> Listen to Flash briefing HERE. <<

Gambling halls and bordellos. These were some of the most lucrative businesses of the old west. And one of the best known proprietors of such an establishment was a woman called Eleanor Dumont, also known as Madame Moustache.

Eleanor began life as Simone Jules and hailed from either France or New Orleans. She was a petite and pretty woman who excelled at the game of 21, the precursor of American Blackjack.

After she was accused of card sharping in San Francisco in 1854, Simone emerged onto the booming mining scene in Nevada City, California, as Eleanor Dumont, where she opened  her own gambling establishment. Her emporium was furnished with elegant style, and she often treated her guests to free champagne.

Charming and pretty, Eleanor had no trouble attracting men to sit at her table while she dealt the cards and gracefully rolled her cigarettes. While she had many admirers, Eleanor had no known lovers at this time. She kept her admirers at bay telling them she was a lady.

When the gold was all played out in Nevada City, Eleanor got out of the business. With a great deal of money in her purse, she moved to Carson City, Nevada where she bought a ranch. Soon she met Jack McKnight, a supposed cattle buyer, and fell head over heels. Eleanor Dumont - Empowered Women in History - Historical Fiction Author Kari BoveeLittle did she know that Jack was a swindler. In less than a month he sold Eleanor’s ranch and disappeared with all of her money, leaving her with enormous debts.

Eleanor tracked him down and shot him. She never claimed responsibility for the crime and was never charged. Years later, she allegedly confessed to killing him.

With no money and no prospects, Eleanor moved to various mining camps across the western United States and finally ended up in Bodie, California.

As the mining camps dried up, times were hard for Eleanor. Needing to support her establishment, she soon added prostitution to her business model. Now a true Madam, Eleanor changed in other ways as well. Where once she drank champagne in moderation and acted the lady in every way, she turned to whiskey, used rough language, and took up cigar smoking. She grew plump, and the once thin line of dark hair on her upper lip thickened earning her the name, Madame Moustache.

Life did not end happily for Madame Moustache. Strapped for cash, she borrowed $300 from a friend to open her table. Lady Luck abandoned her and she lost everything. Her body was found some time later with a suicide note. The coroner ruled cause of death as an overdose of morphine.

Kathleen Rockwell - Empowered Women in History - Historical Fiction Author Kari Bovee

Flash Briefing: Kathleen Rockwell

Join host Kari Bovee, award-winning author of historical fiction as she shares stories of strong women of history combined with mysteries of the past.

>> Listen to Flash briefing HERE. <<

What does the Pantages Theater and the Klondike Gold Rush have in common? An American dancer and vaudeville star named Kathleen Rockwell.

She came from a well-to-do family in Junction City, Kansas, but her homelife was unstable and often fraught with tension, resulting in Kathleen developing an independent and rebellious spirit.

When she was a teenager, her parents tried to quell this rebelliousness by sending her to boarding school. She spent more time trying to figure out how to break the rules than study, and was soon expelled. By this time, her mother’s second marriage was on the rocks, so the two of them moved to New York.

Kathleen took a job as a chorus girl, and performed in various vaudeville houses. She then followed a job offer with a variety theater in Spokane, Washington, but soon heard rumors of a Klondike Gold Rush.

Rockwell settled in Dawson City, in 1900, where she joined the Savoy Theatrical Company. Kathleen Rockwell - Empowered Women in History - Historical Fiction Author Kari Bovee She developed the Flame Dance, an off-color number in which she wore a red sequined dress trailing 200 feet of chiffon that she twisted and turned into an illusion of flames. The act was a favorite of the miners and it launched her into Klondike fame. At the Savoy, she became known as Klondike Kate.

It was during this time she met Alexander Pantages, a struggling waiter and bartender. The love affair was intense and often tumultuous. They were crazy about each other, but fought over petty jealousies and money—mostly Kate’s money. Pantages borrowed considerable amounts of Kate’s cash to launch his career in Seattle as a theater manager. He thanked her by marrying someone else.

Rockwell headed to Brothers, Oregon with $3500 in cash, $3000 worth of jewelry, and trunks filled with dresses, gowns and hats to try her hand at homesteading 320 acres. She was one of a number of women who claimed their land by living on the claim for the required five years. This was shortly after women had earned the right to vote in Oregon. She was known to have worked the land, and her garden in vaudeville gowns and dance slippers.

While in Brothers, Kate would fall in love and marry twice. After the second marriage ended, she moved to Bend, Oregon where she would become a celebrity again, but this time, it was for her charity work. She worked hard to raise funds for her charitable causes and this time earned the nickname, Aunt Kate. She also trained young girls with their eye on Hollywood fame in voice and dance.

She ended up in Sweet Home, Oregon where she met and married William L. Van Duren, and lived out the rest of her days in a happy and loving relationship. She died in 1957.

Fannie Brice - Empowered Women in History - Historical Fiction Author Kari Bovee

Flash Briefing: Fannie Brice

Join host Kari Bovee, award-winning author of historical fiction as she shares stories of strong women of history combined with mysteries of the past.

>> Listen to Flash briefing HERE. <<

Fanny Brice (sometimes spelled Fannie) was born on New York’s lower east side in 1891 as Fania Borach. The third child of Hungarian/Jewish saloon owners, Fanny’s interests were not in the family business. At fourteen years old, she made her stage debut during amateur night at Keeny’s Theater in Brooklyn. Shortly after, she started working in burlesque reviews as a singer and comedian.

In 1910 while performing in a burlesque show, she was noticed by famous show-man, Florenz Ziegfeld, Jr. After the show, he approached her back stage and said he wanted to Fannie Brice - Empowered Women in History - Historical Fiction Author Kari Boveeput her under contract for his Ziegfeld Follies. Fanny agreed and thus began her long association with the popular entertainment icon. She performed in seven Follies between 1910 and 1923 and in several Midnight Frolic editions 1915 to 1921. In the 1921 Follies she was featured singing “My Man.” Wildly popular, the song became her signature hit.

Brice was most famous for her character Baby Snooks. She performed as Baby in the 1934 Follies. Fanny and Snooks then hit the airwaves in radio at CBS and The Baby Snooks Show was featured weekly till 1948. In 1944, Brice got her own half-hour show on CBS and earned $6,000 a week. Brice was so invested in Snooks, she would often do her radio performances in costume, even though her audience couldn’t see her.

Completely devoted to the character, she told biographer Norman Katov: “Snooks is just the kid I used to be. She’s my kind of youngster, the type I like. She has imagination. She’s eager. She’s alive. With all her deviltry, she is still a good kid, never vicious or mean. I love Snooks, and when I play her I do it as seriously as if she were real. I am Snooks. For twenty minutes or so, Fanny Brice ceases to exist.”

Brice was married three times, first to a local barber in her teens. The marriage lasted three days before she sued for divorce. Her second husband, known as the love of her life, Fannie Brice - Empowered Women in History - Historical Fiction Author Kari BoveeNicky Arnstein, was a lady’s man, professional gambler, and white collar criminal. Arnstein served fourteen months in Sing Sing for wiretapping, and Brice visited him in prison every week. In 1918 they married after living together for six years. In 1924 Arnstein was charged in a Wall Street bond theft , was convicted, and sentenced to Leavenworth Federal Prison where he served three years. Upon his release, he never returned to Fanny and their two children. She divorced him and then married Billy Rose, a songwriter and stage producer. Her third marriage, too, ended in divorce.

Fanny’s career was long and varied. She worked as a song “model”, comedian, singer, theater and movie actress. She starred in many films, two in which she plays herself, The Great Ziegfeld (1934) and The Ziegfeld Follies, (1936.) She recorded several songs for Victor and Columbia. After her death, she posthumously received a Grammy Hall of Fame Award for her 1921 recording of “My Man.”

At the age of 59, Fanny Brice died on May 29, 1951, of a cerebral hemorrhage in Hollywood, California, depriving the world of her varied and abundant talents. She is most famously portrayed in the movies Funny Girl (1968) and Funny Lady (1975) by the incredibly talented Barbara Streisand.

Olive Thomas - Empowered Women in History - Historical Fiction Author Kari Bovee

Flash Briefing: Olive Thomas

Join host Kari Bovee, award-winning author of historical fiction as she shares stories of strong women of history combined with mysteries of the past.

>> Listen to Flash briefing HERE. <<

In 1914, Olive Thomas won “the most beautiful girl in New York City” contest. With that win under her cap, she started modeling for commercial artists in New York City, and it wasn’t long before she caught the eye of famed Broadway producer Florenz Ziegfeld Jr. 

Ziegfeld offered her a job in his renown Broadway Shows, the Ziegfeld Follies and the Midnight Frolic. While the Follies was entertainment for the entire family, the Frolic was a more risqué show that catered primarily to wealthy gentlemen. 

While Thomas loved her work on Broadway, the lure of silent films drew her to Hollywood. Olive Thomas - Empowered Women in History - Historical Fiction Author Kari BoveeShe met and married Jack Pickford, the ne’er-do-well brother of Mary Pickford, the biggest and most successful actress of the silent film era. While Thomas was known for her beauty, she was also known for her wild, ways. The couple partied day and night, despite Thomas’s punishing work schedule. Within six years she appeared in over twenty films.

Her husband Jack was just as prolific. He played bit parts in 95 shorts and films. Though he was considered a pretty good actor, he never quite lived up to his potential. He preferred drinking, drugs, and womanizing.

With their marriage on the skids, the couple decided to take a second honeymoon in Paris in 1920. After a night of binge drinking, dancing, and drug use, they returned to their hotel room at around 3:00 am. Pickford flopped onto the bed, while Thomas went into the bathroom. Moments later, she woke Pickford by screaming, “Oh my God!” He found her holding a container of mercury bichloride, a substance used to treat Jack’s syphilis, and that also served a dual purpose as bathroom clearer. In her drunken stupor, Thomas had used the toxic liquid to wash down some sleeping pills.

Olive Thomas - Empowered Women in History - Historical Fiction Author Kari Bovee

She was rushed to the hospital where she succumbed to the poison three days later.

Rumors abounded that she either committed suicide because of Jack’s constant philandering, or that she was murdered by her nutty, inebriated husband. A police investigation and autopsy followed. The coroner ruled the death accidental, but the stigma never left Pickford.

The character of Sophia Michelle in my novel Grace in the Wings was inspired by the beautiful and tragic Olive Thomas. If you are intrigued, you can find the book on Amazon You can also learn more about me and my books on my website at Karibovee.com. 

 

Lillian Smith- Empowered Women in History - Historical Fiction Author Kari Bovee

Flash Briefing:

Join host Kari Bovee, award-winning author of historical fiction as she shares stories of strong women of history combined with mysteries of the past.

>> Listen to Flash briefing HERE. <<

Like Annie Oakley, Lillian Smith learned to shoot a rifle when she was barely big enough to hold it. Like Annie Oakley, Lillian Smith started competing in shooting contests before the age of 15, and like Annie Oakley, Lillian Smith impressed upon Wild West Show owner Buffalo Bill Cody that she needed to be in his show, but that is where the similarities end—and the rivalry between the two women begins.

 Annie Oakley had become the darling of the Wild West Show, besting her male sharpshooting counterparts at every turn, and her place in the show was on solid footing.Lillian Smith- Empowered Women in History - Historical Fiction Author Kari Bovee Modest, in both her appearance and comportment, Annie couldn’t have been more different than this upstart teenager who used coarse language and wore flashy clothing—something Annie probably could have tolerated until Lillian started bragging that “Annie Oakley was done for” now that she had joined the show. The rivalry began. Annie even started to tell the press she was born in 1866, instead of 1860, to narrow the age gap between the two. 

The two traveled with the Wild West Show to England to perform at Queen Victoria’s Golden Jubilee. Annie was further irritated when she was criticized in the press for first shaking the hand of Alexandra, Princess of Wales, before that of her husband, Bertie, England’s future King Edward, even though Lillian did the same. When Annie was presented to Queen Victoria, a drawing in an illustrated newspaper showed Lillian being presented instead. But most vexing of all was a letter published in an American newspaper, claiming that in England, Annie was being left out in the cold. This, of course, wasn’t true. Lillian Smith- Empowered Women in History - Historical Fiction Author Kari BoveeAnnie was still getting the lion’s share of press, and on the field at Wimbledon, Oakley bested Smith hands down and got a personal congratulations from the Prince of Wales. 

Nevertheless, the rivalry and the lack of support from Buffalo Bill Cody was too much for Annie to bear. She left the show at the end of the London run. Back home, Smith was ridiculed for her performance at Wimbledon, and allegations surfaced that she was cheating in her Wild West act. Finally, Cody realized Smith would never have the same showbusiness appeal as Annie. Smith left the show in 1889, and Annie came back just in time for the Columbian World’s Fair in Chicago.

In the first two novels of my Annie Oakley Mystery series, Girl with a Gun and Peccadillo at the Palace, I have fun with this rivalry between these two female sharpshooting sensations. You can find the books on Amazon.

 

 

Wife Victoria - Empowered Women in History - Historical Fiction Author Kari Bovee

Flash Briefing: Wife Victoria

Join host Kari Bovee, award-winning author of historical fiction as she shares stories of strong women of history combined with mysteries of the past.

>> Listen to Flash briefing HERE. <<

I don’t know about you, but I love the history of the British monarchs—from the mythical  tales of King Arthur, to Henry VIII, to Elizabeth I, and beyond. Probably one of my most favorite monarchs is Queen Victoria. Up until the current reign of Queen Elizabeth II, Queen Victoria was the longest ruling monarch in Britain, reigning for 63 years. But not everyone wanted it that way. During her time as Queen, Victoria endured eight assassination attempts—eight because one of the would-be murderers tried to kill her twice.

Wife Victoria - Empowered Women in History - Historical Fiction Author Kari BoveeThe first attempt occurred in 1840, when Victoria was pregnant with her first child. Victoria and Albert were enjoying a carriage ride when a man by the name of Edward Oxford fired a pistol at the couple. Twice. And twice he missed. Unflustered, Victoria demanded the driver drive on, so they could continue their ride.

Two years later, a man named John Francis made an attempt on the Queen’s life while again, she and Albert were out in their carriage, but Francis either did not pull the trigger, or his gun didn’t fire. He then crossed the mall and ran into Green park. Victoria figured the best way to capture the man was to lure him out of hiding by yet another carriage ride the next day. But, this time, she ordered the carriage to ride faster. It probably saved their lives as Francis fired on them for real, this time.

There were five more attempts on Victoria’s life, but, unafraid, she never let it stop her from riding in an open air carriage, or attending outdoor events, to see and be seen by her adoring public. While such attempts are usually met with a death sentence, Victoria wouldn’t have it. None of her would be assassins suffered that fate—but they suffered another one, imprisonment for life.