- James Fisher
Held, Anna (18 March 1865?–13 August 1918), actress and singer, was born in Warsaw, Poland (although she often claimed to have been born in Paris, France), the daughter of Maurice Held and Yvonne Pierre. Her true birthdate is a matter of considerable conjecture. Most sources give 1873 or 1877 as the year, but more recent research has provided evidence that Held was actually born in 1865. Her father was a glovemaker, but after he became seriously ill the family moved from Warsaw to Paris and opened a restaurant. Held worked in the restaurant, as did her siblings, and she also worked in Parisian shops sewing buttonholes, making curled ostrich feathers, and constructing fur caps. She occasionally sang in her father’s restaurant and was clearly drawn to the stage at an early age. She made her debut in a café concert in 1889, impressing her audience by singing in Spanish, French, German, and Polish. After her father’s death, Held moved with her mother to London where she sought chorus work and made her legitimate theater debut at London’s Princess Theatre in 1889. She also performed in London’s Yiddish Theatre. She slowly moved up to featured roles both in England and on the Continent, where she performed in the elegant El Dorado and La Scala cabarets in Paris. While starring in other top-notch European cabarets in Germany, Amsterdam, Hungary, and Scandinavia, Held also performed in the palaces of royalty and the mansions of the rich. Her celebrity was such that at this time she was the model for two Toulouse-Lautrec lithographs. Also at about this time, Held secretly wed a fifty-year-old South American named Maximo Carrera in 1894. They were separated after a short time....