Lately I know I have been sharing much about the area I live in. I can't help myself. I love where I live and all these years later still learn new things about the area. We certainly have had, and still do have quite a cast of characters. A few post back, I posted about going to the Crossings Vineyards. Well, on the way there I passed a shuttered place that used to hop with nightlife and frivolity.... Chez Odette's.
Odette Myrtil was an American actress, singer, and violinist of French birth. She began her career as a violinist on the vaudeville stage in Paris at the age of 14. Born on June 28, 1898, Odette Myrtil in addition to being an actress and musician, was also a costume designer who played an important role in the creative culture of New Hope during the second half of the 20th century. She appeared in many productions on Broadway and in the theaters of Chicago, London, New York, Los Angeles, and Paris. Odette was also an accomplished film star. Instead of gaining notoriety as a leading lady, she was a skilled character actress, often playing roles that highlighted her abilities as a singer. From 1923-1972, she appeared in more than 20 feature length films. The colorful Parisian was also a star in the original Broadway production of friend Oscar Hammerstein's "South Pacific."
Here's Odette at Chez Odette's in her retirement.
After traveling she eventually relocated to New Hope, Pennsylvania and stayed there for the later half of her life. Odette had a profound impact on the rich culture of the popular town. She managed The Playhouse Inn, next door to the Bucks County Playhouse, from 1955 to 1958. And from 1959 to 1976 she operated the New Hope restaurant “Chez Odette” or simply Odette’s Restaurant. The place dates back to 1794, to serve boatmen on the Delaware River, and was a favorite stopover for drinking and gambling, as well as a place to rest. When the Delaware Canal opened in 1830, the River House became a landing for coal barges making their way to New York. In the 1930s, New Hope experienced a renaissance as a tourist town, and the site of the River House became the town’s first hotel. Odette purchased the hotel in 1959, who renamed it Chez Odette and transformed it into a landmark French bistro complete with Parisian-style live entertainment, including a cabaret and piano bar. She attracted guests, very well known performers from New York and Philadelphia to Odette's, but sold it a few months before she died in 1978 to area chef, Rocky Balbone. When I moved here, Odette's was still in full swing. They still were getting big names in to preform, and top notch Broadway performers and cabaret acts. There was no where that compared to their famous Sunday Brunches!!! Odette's also happens to be the infamous site where up and coming new woman Jessica Savtich and friend drove into the canal and drowned. Alas.... Odette's closed about 10 years ago after three consecutive floods damaged the property badly.
Now sits vacant and decaying......
Recently, it's been announced the Balbone family has sold it and Odette's will get a new life as a new luxury hotel, dinner theater, and eatery. This is the rendering from this weeks article.
Odette died in Doylestown, Pennsylvania in 1978, at the age of 80. I sure hope she will love the new life the place will be getting.