Gilda Gray

Gilda Gray

Dancer + Singer + Actress
Born Oct 24, 1901

Gilda Gray was a Polish born American actress and dancer who became famous in the U.S. for popularizing a dance called the "shimmy" which became fashionable in 1920s films and theater productions.

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Learn about the memorable moments in the evolution of Gilda Gray.


1901 Birth Gilda Gray was born as Marianna Michalska in Kraków (then part of Galicia-Lodomeria, Austria-Hungary, now part of Poland) on 24 October 1901, to Max and Wanda Michalski, who emigrated to the United States in 1909 and settled in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. … Read More


1919 17 Years Old 1 More Event
Although the shimmy is said to have been introduced to American audiences by Gray in New York in 1919, the term was widely used before. … Read More


1922 20 Years Old After being seen by Florenz Ziegfeld, she appeared in the 1922 Ziegfeld Follies where she was enormously popular with the public.
1923 21 Years Old 1 More Event
The couple, who divorced in 1923, had one son, Martin Gorecki, who became a bandleader under the name Martin Gray. … Read More
1927 25 Years Old In 1927, she made two more films, The Devil Dancer and Cabaret.
1929 27 Years Old When the stock market crashed in 1929, Gilda Gray lost most of her financial assets, but she managed to get a job dancing at the Palace Theater in New York. … Read More
1931 29 Years Old In 1931 she suffered a heart attack.


1932 30 Years Old In 1932, Gray announced her engagement to singer Art Jarrett, but abandoned their marriage plans when it became clear that the five-day waiting period between filing a marriage license and the actual ceremony could not be waived.
1933 31 Years Old On 23 May 1933, she married a Venezuelan diplomat, Hector Briceño de Saa. The couple separated two years later and divorced in 1938.


1953 51 Years Old During World War II, Gray worked for Poland including raising money. In 1953, Ralph Edwards did her life story on his television show, This Is Your Life. … Read More
1959 58 Years Old By the time of her death at the age of 58 from a second heart attack, on December 22, 1959, Gilda Gray was again in financial trouble. … Read More
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