Over at The Virtual Dime Museum, Lidian recently posted an article about Chicagoan Dorothy Deene and her amazing "complexion tea." As always, Lidian does a great job, but I thought a little more information might be in order. Dorothy D. Deene was a fascinating lady. Lidian talked about the entrepreneurial side of Dorothy, and her complexion ...whatever.
By 1911, ads like this were popping up:
ARTIST'S FACE GROWS YOUNGER EVERY YEAR
Years ago we became acquainted with the newspaper illustrations and writings of Dorothy Deene, the famous Chicago artist. The people that knew her fifteen years ago declare, "cross their hearts and hope to die," that she is really younger looking today than when they first knew her. In short her face refutes the fact that fifteen years have been torn off the calendar, for Father Time has left no traces on her pretty face...the history of her youthful appearance summed up in a nutshell, is that she always keeps a chemical product on her dressing table called pure thermodized jelly. She says she gets it at the drug store, and it keeps away wrinkles, double chin and enlarged pores.
I have no idea what "thermodized jelly is, but I want a jar NOW. And, where did the "tea" go?
So, how did Dorothy come to attention of Chicago? In early 1907, The Chicago Tribune held a contest to find "The Most Beautiful Girl in Chicago." It was quite a big deal and hundreds of pictures of wives, daughters, nieces, granddaughters, friends and sweethearts flooded the newspaper offices. One of the pictures submitted was that of Dorothy Deene, then living at 9958 Langly Avenue. She didn't win the contest. A stenographer, Della Carson, won the Grand Prize of $100. Dorothy pocketed $10 and the hearts of men all over the world. The contest was in February. By March the Tribune was running a full page article titled, "1800 Men Fell in Love with Her Picture." (see picture above)She got a lot of mail and a lot of publicity. The press loved her!
THE ARTIST and TEACHER
Her studio was located at 70 East 41st Street in Chicago and her Commercial Art School at 1014 E. 41st St. There is a wonderful 1910 advertisement for her school on eBay. But, best of all is her promotional pamphlet filled with Dorothy Deene's do's and don'ts for budding artists.
As an artist, Dorothy Deene's work appeared in some Socialist publications as illustrated by the following entry in Class Struggles in America By Algie Martin Simons (1907)
The Sale of an Appetite. By Paul Lafargue. Translated by Charles H. Kerr. Cloth, illustrated, 50 cents.
This is a realistic story of gay Paris, and at the same time a striking picture of the contrasts between the life of the working class and the owning class. It embodies a startling allegory, bringing out the fact that the laborer is obliged to sell his various bodily functions in order to live. Three original wash drawings by Dorothy Deene add to the vividness of the story.
The book had also been listed in The International Socialist Review of 1904 with Deene specifically being mentioned as "the talented, young, 'New Thought' artist...
Dorothy Deene's pictures are surprisingly good. They have an individuality all their own, and at the same time they interpret the story most admirably."
Whether or not Deene was a Socialist or a member of the New Thought movement, I can not say. It is entirely possible she simply took on the job to make some money and promote her work. But, based on the "Deene-isms" in the promotional book, I'd vote for New Thoughter.
Deene disappeared from the pages of the Tribune for a few years, but in October of 1913 a photograph appeared, titled "Women Voters Who Attended Garbage Session of City Council." The ladies look very serious and I think the thermodized jelly had stopped working. Was Deene a Suffragette?
And, last but not least, there is an intriguing listing on Amazon for a song titled, "The Malay Moon," Words and Music by Dorothy D. Deene.
Beauty queen, entrepreneur, artist, teacher and possibly suffragette. That was Chicago's own, Dorothy D. Deene. Quite the independent woman of the early twentieth century. But I still haven't found anything on windmills, Lidian...
For more information on the "New Thought" movement, see A History of the New Thought Movement By Horatio Willis Dresser and the Columbia Encyclopedia definition.