MADAM: Polly Adler, Icon of the Jazz AgeWednesday, January 26th 6:00-7:00pm Live on Zoom Free for LW Members!
In Roaring Twenties New York City, when the nightclubs closed down, the in-crowd didn’t go home. Everyone went to Polly Adler’s place, the “speakeasy with a harem.” Polly Adler was the most celebrated brothel keeper in New York (and UWS) history.
She was a diminutive dynamo whose Manhattan brothels (starting with a two-room apartment on Riverside Drive and moving up to the Majestic on West 75th Street and beyond), became places not just for men to have the company of women, but where the culturati and celebrity elite, high society and violent figures of the underworld all mingled—and had a good time doing it. Mayor Jimmy Walker, gossip columnist Walter Winchell and members of the famed Algonquin Round Table joined notorious mobsters like Legs Diamond, Lucky Luciano and William Vincent “Big Bill” Dwyer as guests at Polly's.
Debby Applegate, Pulitzer Prize-winning author of The Most Famous Man in America, shares an inside look at her jaw-dropping biography Madam, about the life of Polly Adler, the notorious “queen of vice” who played hostess to every gangster, politician, writer, sports star and Cafe Society swell worth knowing, and who as much as any single figure helped make the twenties roar.
As a Jewish immigrant from eastern Europe, Polly Adler's life is a classic American story of success and assimilation. Debby Applegate, through Polly's story, illuminates just what made the 1920s the appallingly corrupt— yet glamorous and transformational— era that it was.
Debby Applegate is a historian and biographer based in New Haven, CT. Her first book, The Most Famous Man in America: The Biography of Henry Ward Beecher, won the 2007 Pulitzer Prize for biography and was a finalist for the Los Angeles Book Prize and the National Book Critics Circle Award for biography. She is a graduate of Amherst College and was a Sterling Fellow in American Studies at Yale University where she received her Ph.D.
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