Parisian born French can-can dancer, singer and actress Jane Avril was born Jeanne Beaudon in Belleville, on 9th June 1868. Her mother was a courtesan and her absent father, was an Italian aristocrat. Abused as a child, she ran away from home, and was eventually admitted to the Salpêtrière Hospital, with the movement disorder ‘St Vitus’ Dance‘. After many unsuccessful treatments in hospitals, she left and was taken in by the Madame of a Parisian brothel.
She later became a dancer at the Folies-Bergere, Casino de Paris, London Place Theater and in the U.S.A., finally returning to the Moulin Rouge. It was during this time that she became famous through her association with Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec who sketched and painted her along with many others, during her routines in the Parisian dance halls.
In fact, he gave her many of his paintings which she gradually dispersed among her numerous lovers.
Jane Avril died in a seniors’ home on 17 January, 1943 at the age of 75. She was later interred in the Père Lachaise Cemetery in Paris.
- Before she died, Jane Avril returned to Paris for the last time in 1941 for a dinner given by old friends for old time’s sake… just a friendly token to pay homage to once upon a time, the queen of France’s Can Can. Excited by the occasion, she stood up while everybody was still eating, kicked a chair which was in her way and shouted. “Allez Les Enfants, Une Fois En Plus! Une Autre Dance. Petit Etre, C’est Ma Derniere!” (“Hurrah children, one more time, one more dance, maybe this is my last!”); and so it may have been!