The original Informative Caption on this photo is delightful: Appearing in a “Bathing Girl of 1922″ costume, Irene Franklin, famous vaudeville star comes out in defence of the “flappers.” She claims this suit of the flapper is most serviceable and the thing on any beach. Is it “the thing on any beach”? FOR SURE. 100%. There is no argument there. This is a compelling swimsuit in any era, and I appreciate Irene for having the flappers’ collective back.  The “most serviceable”? Well, I think even Irene has got to admit that swimming in a cape — even this DIVINE one, with FISH on it — has to be challenging. I assume one arrived in this get-up, then dramatically flung the cape to the ground and used it to sunbathe upon. Otherwise, my darlings, have at.

Irene, by the way, in addition to being a vaudeville star, wrote and recorded a hit song in 1909 called “I’ve Got The Mumps” (!!), and also might have murdered her second husband, an assumption I’ve made because he was apparently shot at a party at her house and the question of who shot him was never solved. (That’s a scanned-in contemporaneous article from the New York Times and it for sure reads like the beginning of an Agatha Christie novel.) Her first husband “died in the night” after suffering “a nervous breakdown,” per the outstandingly named Youngstown Daily Vindicator, a paper which was once famous for its unflinching coverage of the KKK. It was family-owned until last year, when it was bought by a competing paper. Anyway, subscribe to your local paper! And don’t forget your cape this summer.

[Photo: Getty Imagines]
43