Madame Olinka

Travelling show-woman

Her origins are obscure, but she is likely to have come from eastern Prussia or western Poland. She booked her appearances, mostly in variety theatres, through an agent in Breslau, who advertised her as 'The most sensational act of the day. A first-class box-office attraction.' Her trade advertisements appeared from early summer 1896, by which time she must have bought her projection apparatus, which came from H.O. Foersterling in Berlin; she used Foersterling's advertising campaign for his 'Edison's Ideal' presentations until at least 1898. Her trade advertisements soon carried glowing endorsements from theatre managers across northern Europe, and her schedule was intense. On 27 September 1896 she opened at the Centralhallen-Theatre in Hamburg; a week later (October 4) at the Wilhelm Theatre in Gorlitz; two weeks after that (October 25) she was at the Flora Variety Theatre in Amsterdam; by the middle of November she was exhibiting in The Hague and Rotterdam. Madame Olinka had the habit of presenting each film from the stage of the theatre as it was shown, describing the images in stentorian tones that one reporter found 'very original and strange'. In spring 1898 she was in Posnan, Poland, and in May 1900 in the north German city of Halle, now using an 'Edisongraph' projector, which may still have been her original Foersterling apparatus. But in Halle, she was no longer introducing her films from the stage and she disappears thereafter from the historical record, a pioneering and active exhibitor who remains an enigma.

Deac Rossell