Meet Jenny Lind—One of America’s first female celebrities

March 2016
Jenny Lind paper doll

Paper doll, Jenny Lind paper doll, and ten costumes designed for her operatic roles, from around 1850. Lithograph on paper. Cooper Hewitt, Gift of Mrs. Fredick Rosengarten, 1952-8-1.

By Regan Shrumm

Long before Hollywood actresses such as Marilyn Monroe and Katherine Hepburn became iconic stars, popular female opera singers of the early to mid-nineteenth century were among the first American celebrities. In America, one of those early stars was Jenny Lind, nicknamed the “Swedish Nightingale.” Just as Monroe’s plunging necklines and slinky dresses reinforced her image as a curvaceous and ideal woman of the 1950s, and Hepburn’s pantsuits and structured shoulder pads reflected her self-confidence and athleticism,  paper dolls created in the likeness of Lind emulated values bestowed on the singer.

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