Gaby Deslys


Gabrielle of the Lilies, her mother's pet name,
she condensed to Gaby Deslys for a career on the boards.
Where drive over talent paved the way, for her to step out
of the chorus line to become box office gold.

No great shakes as a dancer or a singer of note, she held her own
with feathered, boudoir glamour, calculated deshabille.
Unafraid of scandal, she went where the lily-livered wouldn't go,
a gift of an eight foot row of pearls from the Portuguese Prince Manuel,

caused waves across the globe; her answer enigmatic as the Sphinx,
when asked if more than friendship involved. Others who were smitten
came on bended knee, to receive an emphatic no, the wedded state,
she felt, out of keeping with the image she had slaved to cultivate.

The fortune she amassed displayed with works by Botticelli,
collections of Limoges. Her famous bed, boat-shaped with cherubs
on its bow, more suited to a grotto than a room, a bed that one day
would dock in the prop department of a Hollywood lot.

Complications of the Great Influenza became the narrative
of her final act, the curtain coming down on her at thirty-eight.
Her 24 carat heart exposed, on leaving her diamond mine worth
of jewels to the poor of Marseille.

Stephen Bone

If you have any thoughts about this poem,  Stephen Bone   would be pleased to hear them

One of the films for which Gaby's cherub bed was taken out of the studio prop store was Sunset Boulevard, starring William Holden and Gloria Swanson.