Celebrity Birthdays In History.... January 6th, 1681....

 Madam Leenya Katarina Strasbourg. (Seen here in the portrait done of her: "The Beautiful Strasbourgian" by Nicolas de Largillière, 1703.) Madam Leenya was a notable society doyenne and international traveler in the most discerning European courts. Her tastes in the arts, literature, crafts, cuisine, fashion, and entertainment were legendary. And, in addition to her great charm and wit, she was extremely talented at both music and "recitives", or what we would call today, "community theatre". She used her extraordinary wealth (built during the nutmeg and tulip booms!) to patronize and support her followers, and she decided to turn her own skills to more realistic forms in the arts! One of her greatest innovations was to get acrobats, jugglers, lacemakers, chefs, carpenters, gilders, poets, and dancers to "cry on cue" as she put it... Actors immediately beat a trail to her salon doors to be taught the new skills of "crying on cue"....REAL TEARS!! Soon, her Académie de L'hystérie et de Rire was full of hundreds of actors from all over the continent. Producers, directors, and actors all judged each other's talents by whether they knew of her "methods".... Not only did all plays in the best theatres have a fresh and modern realism to them, but her influence was seen in circuses, carnivals, mime shows, ballets, roadside caprices, and gypsy fortune teller tents. She died at 91 years of age having created a new world of art.... through her "Strasbourg Method" which was much imitated through the centuries.... but never duplicated. (She is seen in this portrait during one of her movement classes called "An Actress Stands Straight And Tall". She balanced a gigantic hamantaschen on her head during Purim and went about the classroom doing barnyard sounds and somersaults to show her equilibrium....and then promptly burst into tears while reciting "Hey Diddle Diddle, The Cat And The Fiddle!".... (many thanks to George Sweet for the portrait!) (ps...that is not a lap-dog... it's her little handbag/alarm clock from Amsterdam's "Coo-Koo For Clutches" shop!)....

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