SOURCE: Authors Michael Foster and Barbara Foster

Authors Michael Foster and Barbara Foster

October 25, 2011 20:01 ET

Authors Reveal Who the First Celebrity Was: Stage Legend, Pin-Up Girl, Media Darling -- It All Started With Her

NEW YORK, NY--(Marketwire - Oct 25, 2011) - This woman -- whose life story is chronicled in the newly published "A Dangerous Woman: The Life, Loves and Scandals of Adah Isaacs Menken, 1835 - 1868" ( by Michael and Barbara Foster -- appeared nude on stage shows, dated powerful men, blazed through five marriages, set fashion trends, inspired writers to create fictional characters based on her real life, was rumored to be bisexual and shocked the popular culture into following her every move.

Almost every glamorous and scandalous movie star who has ever made a career by making headlines owes a debt to a woman whose outrageous behavior would have left all of them in the dust, and she started her journey during the Civil War.

Adah Menken was the first media celebrity, who was known around the world as "The Naked Lady" because her stage show featured her nude (in a sheer body stocking). Her star power inspired poets like Walt Whitman and writers like Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, who used Menken as the basis for the classic Sherlock Holmes supporting character of Irene Adler. Her biographers call her the originator of the modern celebrity femme fatale.

"Menken was an original who pioneered in several areas we now take for granted," said the Fosters. "Adah invented 'stardom' in the modern, media-driven sense, making use of the newly invented newspaper, the telegraph, photography, railroads and steamships to become the first global superstar -- number one on Broadway, the rage of gold rush San Francisco, the toast of Victorian London and Paris. Onstage, Adah risked her life every evening in the Civil War sensation Mazeppa, in which apparently stripped naked she rode up a four-story stage mountain tied to a stallion. The mix of sexuality and danger made her the Civil War siren, the highest paid actress in the world, and caused her death at 33. A 'shooting star,' her example would be followed by the likes of Jean Harlow, James Dean, Marilyn Monroe, and a roster of short-lived superstars."

About The Fosters
Barbara Foster, associate Professor at CUNY, has published many print and Net articles and more than 200 poems in journals in various countries.

Michael Foster, born in Brooklyn, is a novelist, biographer, and historian who graduated from Cornell with honors in philosophy. He received an MFA from the Writer's Workshop, Iowa.

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