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Jim Kershner’s this day in history

From our archives, 100 years ago

The theater critic at The Spokesman-Review could hardly conceal his excitement at the arrival on the Orpheum Theater’s stage of an act featuring “X-ray frocks,” also known as silhouette gowns.

Silhouette gowns were a scandalous new fashion rage, said to be clingy and nearly see-through. 

“Spokane matrons will do well to equip their husbands with smoked glasses before they let them attend the Orpheum,” the critic said. “Shh! …  Five, count them, filmy X-ray frocks are part of the week’s offering and they all appear in one act, the Jesse Lasky production, ‘The Little Parisenne.’ ”

Comedienne Valerie Serice wore one of them, and the others were worn by the chorus girls.

“The opalescent flashes of their daring transparencies left little to the imagination,” the critic said.

He also added that “the silhouettes had the popular vote and won in a walk.”

The Spokane police chief had earlier threatened to arrest any woman wearing a silhouette gown on the street, but that apparently did not apply to the stage.

From the religion beat: Dr. E.L. Jacobs delivered a talk at Spokane’s Temple Emanu-El, urging the school board to remove Shakespeare’s “The Merchant of Venice” from the curriculum. He said that the play, which features the Jewish character Shylock, had a history of inflaming the minds of audiences and has “cost the Jewish nation blood.”