1921: Gertrude Moody
Pretty, and Probably Talented
I came across Gertrude while searching for a different actress performing on the evening of January 9, 1921 in Minneapolis. Her image was shown in the newspaper clipping above and the article said that she was part of a singing skit called Opera and Jazz, Inc. Also mentioned was Lillie Jewel Faulkner, who presented a miniature revue described as “little wooden men and women who are made to perform by the adroit use of wires, strings and hinges.”
Because Gertrude wasn’t the focus of my search, I smiled at the Pretty, and Probably Talented headline, drew a picture of her, and that was about it. I did wonder what her story was, but needed to move on to other things.
She crossed my mind the other day when I saw the drawing I’d done and decided to allot time to a small dig and see what I could find. In the time I gave myself, I didn’t find enough to piece together her whole life, but I did find a few interesting things.
The first search
This returned a lot of results—the name Gertrude Moody was more prevalent than I would have guessed. A quick glance confirmed that in the 1920s, Gertrude performed on a regular basis around the country.
After the 1920s, there is a long gap until just one engagement in 1940 at Lou’s Taverna in Asbury Park, Jew Jersey:
Another long silence until she pops up for a handful of shows in the summer and fall of 1948:
But then—nothing. No other mention of her again.
I was pretty sure that the Gertrude Moody from the 1920s and 1940s was one and the same. Was she originally from New Jersey? It could make sense—by the 1940s she’d be in her 40s or possibly even older. Maybe by then she’d settled close to where she’d grown up?
That seemed possible and I focused my next search on New Jersey, where I identified two different Gertrudes as candidates—Gertrude A. Moody and Gertrude M. Moody.
Gertrude A. Moody
Gertrude A. Moody was born in 1891 and became engaged in 1930 to R. Irving Stagmer—but no marriage ever took place between the two. Instead in 1935, R Irving Stagmer married the widow of a pharmacist with whom he’d been classmates at the Philadelphia College of Pharmacy and Science.
After her broken engagement, Gertrude A Moody became active in her Methodist church and in her role as matron of the Order of the Eastern Star. She worked as a stenographer and retired due to illness as a secretary in a law firm in 1956 and passed away 10 years later.
I think it’s safe to say that this devout Methodist spinster and law office secretary was not moonlighting as The Strawberry Blonde in Asbury Park nightclubs in the 1940s (though I kind of liked that plot line).
Gertrude M. Moody
Gertrude M. Moody was born in 1903 in Hartlepool, England, and immigrated with her family to America in 1910. Like Gertrude A., she seems to also have been on her way to spinsterhood. She trained as a hairstylist and worked independently but did eventually marry at the age of 43 in 1946.
It’s also hard to imagine that this is the same Gertrude performing in Asbury Park. Not only because it’s unlikely that two years into her marriage she would have been performing in a lounge act, but in 1940 she was busy supporting herself as a hairdresser in a different city.
Back to the beginning
I ran the search again and noticed something—the very first performance by Gertrude Moody in the 1920s was that very night I was searching for: January 9, 1921 in Minneapolis. The last mention is in Madison, Wisconsin, in 1928.
But there was one single mention before the 20s—curiously also from Minneapolis—a small profile from the Minneapolis Star Tribune on October 11, 1915. The article references a performance at the Unique Theater with ‘The Three American Girls’ aka the Sattler sisters. Their names were Gertrude Moody, Helen Hammond, sopranos, and the contralto Janet Moore. It was reported that they had ‘pleasing personalities’ and well-cultivated voices that were showcased in solos and trio harmonies.
Maybe Gertrude Moody was a stage name? Was I really looking for someone with the last name of Sattler? Is that why she dropped in and out of the record? Was she originally from Minnesota rather than New Jersey?
I did do searches for Sattler and the first names of the three but didn’t find anything that seemed like a lead. There is definitely more here to find out. I’d love to know what happened in the gaps, but for now Gertrude Moody remains pretty, and probably talented, and a little bit of an enigma.