Michener Art Museum

Odette Myrtil

BORN: January 1, 1898, Paris, France
DIED: September 19, 1978, Doylestown, Pennsylvania

Odette Myrtil, born Odette Belza in Paris, France, was the child of two stage performers. She was raised on the road, traveling with her parents until they enrolled her in a school in Brussels to study the violin. Her lessons were so successful that she began performing on stage at the age of 14. In 1915, she was invited to perform in Ziegfeld Follies in America, which led to numerous musical roles on Broadway, most of which incorporated her skill as a violinist, such as in Countess Maritza, 1926, and White Lilacs, 1928. One of the highlights of her career was acting the title role of Odette in Jerome Kern's The Cat and the Fiddle, 1931, written especially for her. She went on to appear in more than 25 movies, including Dodsworth, 1936, and I Married an Angel, 1942.
In 1955, Odette visited New Hope and fell in love with the town. She ended up staying for three years, managing Don Walker's The Playhouse Inn located next to the Bucks County Playhouse. She returned in 1961 and bought The River House restaurant, re-naming it Chez Odette, which she successfully managed for 15 years, selling it three years before her death in 1978.