Thursday, May 11, 2017

OUR ODETTE MYRTIL

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.

17 comments:

  1. It sounds as if she put New Hope on the map, Mistress. I'm sure you and Odette would have got along like a house on fire!

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  2. How excellent! I got a tour of the Buck's County Playhouse during a trip to the area. How great that her place will see renewal - though I sorely wish they had kept at least a portion of the original structure to integrate into the new hotel. Maybe they have and it just doesn't show well in the rendering....
    Hugs!!

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  3. Was her private life known? She's got a real Marlene Dietrich vibe in 2 or 3 of those photos!

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    1. For the most part yes. Odette was married twice and has one son. But in New Hope anything goes, so lord knows what went on behind closed doors.

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  4. Mistress what an,absolutely fascinating post. William and I used to take brunch almost every Sunday there. We have also seen everyone from Shirley Bassey to Patti Lupone there for there excellent cabarets. I remember well when Jessica Savivch drove accidentally into the camel. All there years later never knew the history of the place or that there was an actual Odette. What a person she was. Colorful life I'd say. It was a sad day when they announced it would be closing. Love that New Hope and the planning are bringing it back to a new history.

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  5. Interesting post. I swear, when I come that direction next your my your guide. She looks and sounds like a wonderful, colorful woman.

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  6. Ahhhhhhhh back when women knew how to dress with style and grace, and life was campy and fun. Enjoyed reading about her. Loving these past.

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  7. No denying she was a snappy dresser.

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  8. You know a place named Chez Odette is bound to be a lively place.

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  9. Odette's was one of the first places I played as part of a quartet. So glad to hear it will get a new life. That is certainly a food, wow.

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  10. I never heard of Odette, but I do remember when Jessica Savitch plunged into the canal. It's such a shame that floods destroyed the original building, but a new luxury hotel and dinner theater sounds like a perfect resurrection.
    A fascinating post!

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  11. Its beyond me why a movie hasn't been done yet on the life and times of this town yet. With the different life styles and characters that lived there and all its colorful visitors, make one hell of a movie......or musical.

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  12. Happy Friday, mistress! Have one hell of a wonderful time. Hugs!!!

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  13. I just bet she was fabulous!!! That what you need mistress, a hotel and lounge to be hostess with the mostess, and entertain the town. Nice post.

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  14. Talk about glamour!!!! You do know I love your blog! It's my source of escapism from the mostly terrible news most days, and politics. Your my one place to have a break. Thank you.

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  15. What a fascinating woman. I've been loving these post.

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Go ahead darling, tell me something fabulous!

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