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Claire Waldoff

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Claire Waldoff (Clara Wortmann, Gelsenkirchen, Germany, October 21, 1884 – January 22, 1957) was a famous German cabaret singer and entertainer in Berlin during the 1910s and 1920s.

Wortmann was born the eleventh child of 16. Her parents owned a tavern in Gelsenkirchen. After completing school, she studied theatre and chose as her pseudoynm Claire Waldoff. In 1903, she got her first theatre jobs in Bad Pyrmont and in Kattowitz. In 1907, she went to Berlin, where she performed at the Figaro-Theater on Kurfürstendamm. In 1907, she also began a working as a cabaret singer. Rudolf Nelson gave her a job at the theatre Roland von Berlin on Potsdamer Straße. She had great success during the next several years in German cabaret. She sang at Chat Noir on Friedrichstraße and at the Linden-Cabaret on Unter den Linden. Waldoff was known for singing her songs in distinctive Berliner slang. Waldoff’s success reached its peak in the 1920s. She performed at the two great Berlin varietés, Scala and Wintergarten, sang together with Marlene Dietrich, and had her songs played on the radio. Her repertoire included around 300 original songs.

Waldoff lived together with Olga von Roeder. The lesbian couple lived happily in Berlin during the 1920s. Together they met often other lesbian friends in the club, Damenklub Pyramide, in Berlin. After the German Nazis won the elections 1933 and Hitler came to power, Waldoff’s success ended. In 1939, she and Olga von Roder left Berlin together, and they lived in Bayerisch Gmain.

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