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Gilda Gray in one of her characteristic dances of the 1920s such as the Charleston of dance history. Gilda danced many dances such as the Devil Dance, Charleston Dance,  Shimmy, Salome Dance and Voodoo Dance and Gilda Glide and was one of the Tiller Girls and a Ziegfeld Girl

Stage Name

Birth Name

Gilda Gray Marianna Michalski (a)
 Mary Gray Maryanna Michalska (b)
     Gilda started her career as a Cabaret dancer in New York shortly after arriving from her native Poland. Gilda changed her name from Marianna to Mary Gray, then finally to Gilda Gray. Her English was not the best and had a strong accent when she danced in the Ziegfeld Follies as a Ziegfeld Girl and later in the movie "The Great Ziegfeld." When Gilda's part was cut from the scene she sued for damages. By 1938 she had had 3 husbands. Gilda was also a part of the Tiller Girls dance troupe.

      Gilda startled Broadway audiences with her Voodoo dance in 1923. Her most famous dance was the scandalous " Shimmy." The Shimmy has been claimed by many, but it was Gilda Gray who could never keep her body still while she sang. When she moved her shoulders, her audiences loved it so much she kept it in her act. The Shimmy ( Chemise) is said to be a part of her dress ( Straps) and when she shook her shoulder her chemise would always show.

     The New York Times reported: around 1918, at John Letzka's Saloon, a patron watching her do this yelled out while she was performing and said: " What do you call that dance," she replied, " I'm shaking my chemise, that's what I am doing." Gray later refuted ever saying this in "The Dance Magazine." Gray also did the shimmy in the Ziegfeld's Follies of 1922. Mae West would later challenge Gray and Bee Palmer's claim by stating it was her who first did the Shimmy and Palmer and Gray just capitalized on it. West goes on to say

Gilda Gray Auotgraph
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She didn't care, she wanted to be known as an actress not a dancer. However the "Bullfrog Hop" song (which mentions the Shimmy) was written in 1908 and pre dates these stories by at least 10 years.

      Gilda divorced three husbands by 1936, claiming each time, that the reason she seeked a divorce was because her husband used obscene and offensive language with her. Gilda lived in Los Angeles in the 1930's.

   The "Gilda Glide" was choreographed in her honor by Ned Wayburn.

Birth Place

Birth Date



Krakow, Poland 10/24/1901 - 12/22/1959 (a Milwaukee Bartender) 1 Son
    Boag (2nd - a Night Club Owner)  
      Hector Briceno de Saa (3rd)  

Dance Types

Dance Partners

Music Titles/ Sheet Music

Ballroom Dances Laughton Cabarabia (1927)
The Devil Dance ( Pic) As a Tiller Girl Gilda Glide, the
The Gilda Glide       Hawaiian Dream Girl (1924 SM Cover)
Hula Dance       Ty-Tee (SM Cover)
Salome       Beale Street Blues (1919)
Voodoo Dance            

Night Clubs



Rendezvous(NY) 44th Street Theatre (1919) 1919 - Shubert Gaieties of 1919
Winter Garden(Theatre) New Amsterdam Theatre (1922) 1921 - Music Box Revue
      Rendezvous Theater 1921 - Snapshots of 1921
      Selwyn Theatre (1921) 1922 - Ziegfeld Follies
            1927 - Devil Dancer Play




1919 - Virtuous Vamp 1950s - This Is Your Life 11/1923 - Dance Lover's Mag.
1921 - Girl with the Jazz Heart   1925 - Theater Magazine
1923 - Lawful Larceny   9/1925 - Dance Lovers Mag. (Cover)
1925 - Aloma of The South Seas (Hula)       1926 - Vanity Fair Magazine
1927 - Cabaret       3/1926 - PhotoPlay Magazine
1927 - The Devil Dancer       9/1926 - Photoplay Magazine
1929 - Piccadilly(w/ Anna May Wong)       10/1926 - Motion Picture Mag.
$ 1936 - Great Ziegfeld       6/1927 - Motion Picture Mag.
$ 1936 - Rose - Marie(as Bella)       11/1927 - Dance Magazine
$ A&E Biography - Ziegfeld       5/1928 - Motion Picture Mag.
        8/1928 - Dance Magazine
            8/1928 - True Story Mag.
            5/24/1933 - Evening Tribune(Gilda marries deSaa)
          3/1/1938 - Look Magazine


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