Wednesday, July 26, 2017
Bothwell Browne (Female Impersonator)
"A female impersonator is a man who puts on women's clothes and prances about. I go much deeper into the role than that. I study women, I am an actor of feminine roles." ~ Bothwell
Bothwell Browne was born Walter Bothwell Bruhn on March 7, 1877 in Copenhagen, Denmark. When he was a child his family moved to San Francisco. Bothwell went to New York City and began working as a dancer and female impersonator. In 1911 he made his Broadway debut in Miss Jack. He quickly became one of the most popular acts in vaudeville. Bothwell was known for performing very sexy and often controversial shows. During one show he danced with a live poisonous snake. Critics were constantly comparing him to Julian Eltinge, a more famous female impersonator.
Director Mack Sennett cast Bothwell as an aviator who dresses as a woman in the comedy Yankee Doodle In Berlin. To coincide with the release of the movie Bothwell put together a show that starred some of Mack Sennett's bathing beauties. In December of 1919 he was a headliner at the Palace Theater in New York and was featured on the cover of Variety. Bothwell continued to appear in vaudeville throughout the 1920s. After retiring he opened a dance school in San Francisco. Bothwell, who was openly gay, never married or had children. He died on December 12, 1947 at the age of seventy. Bothwell was cremated and buried at Chapel Of The Pines Crematory in Los Angeles.