About Jackson Gouraud
Gouraud was a musical author who gave to Broadway the Ragtime melodies “Keep Your Eye on Your Friend, Mr. Johnson,” “She’s a ’Spectable Married Colored Lady,” “I’se Workin’—I’se Hustlin,” “He’s My Soft Shell Crab on Toast,” and “My Jetney Queen.” He set the town singing with the broadly comic number-one hit of his song writing career, “Waldorf-Hyphen-Astoria.”
Gouraud’s father, Colonel George Gouraud, was himself an internationally known figure who acted as an agent for Thomas Edison in Europe. He helped found the Edison Telephone Company of London, and a number of European companies using Edison’s technology.
Jackson Gouraud marries heiress Aimee Crocker. Together Aimée and her third husband adopted two children Reginald and Yvonne (she would later adopt two more Dolores and Yolanda) and numerous bulldogs. The Gourauds lived in glamorous Oriental themed homes in Manhattan and on Long Island. They also had tattoos of each other's initials inscribed inside coiling snakes. Aimée then reunited with her natural daughter Gladys from her first marriage who went on to marry Jackson’s brother, Powers, making her daughter (who was already legally her sister) a sister-in-law.
The Jackson Gourauds became well known Broadway “First Nighters” attending all of the opening nights of the biggest plays at the grandest theaters. Aimée befriended all of the Broadway greats of the time including Anna Held, David Belasco, John Drew, and the Barrymore family. Her good friend, the legendary Italian tenor Enrico Caruso, often visited and sometimes performed at her New York homes. Eventually Aimée would be invited to play herself on Broadway at the grand opening of the Folies Bergère Theater in Rennold Wolf’s vaudeville “profane satire” piece "Hell," with music by Irving Berlin. Another Aimée Crocker character would turn up in a modern society comedy "The Lassoo," by Victor Mapes, a few years later at the Lyceum.
The Gourauds would make headlines in the early years of the 20th century when their lavish mansion in the Long Island Sound burned to the ground, and when, on another occasion, several of Aimée's prized bulldogs were tragically poisoned. Aimée and Jack were known to go on "slumming" tours through the dregs of lower New York City with good friend and self-proclaimed Mayor of Chinatown, Chuck Connors, who Aimée claimed silently ruled the Underworld. The colorful Connors would become a lead character in a 20th century Fox film "The Bowery (1933 film)," starring Wallace Beery.
Around this time Aimée began hosting lavish parties. She threw a Robinson Crusoe themed party in Parisian treetops in 1905. At a country circus bash at the Hippodrome, then the largest theater in New York, she appeared as a dairy maid and arrived on the back of an elephant. Her co-host that evening was the legendary scallywag/carnival barker Wilson Mizner who would later become a co-owner of the Brown Derby. Another memorable appearance was as Madame de Pompadour, Louis XV’s mistress, in a costume party in Paris, and yet another gala that she hosted had her pet boa constrictor, Kaa, as the guest of honor.
Her crowning achievement as “Entertainer of Entertainers” which received press all over the world would be “The Dance of all Nations.” The program that evening featured the very frank “Salome” dance, the curious Vienna Viggle, and the “cannibal” dancer Dogmeena, whose costume consisted of coconut oil and a red sash, and who enthusiastically danced in La Danse des Igorrotes. Aimée, appearing in pearls “that would clothe a baby and ransom a king,” delighted the company when she danced La Madrilena, an Argentine tango with one of her most recent admirers. A little later, with a twelve foot snake twined round her neck, she appeared in La Danse de Cobra. When her guests backed away from the snake’s emerald eyes and darting tongue, she exclaimed, “It’s as gentle as a powder puff."
Jackson died of an acute attack of tonsillitis.