“History doesn’t repeat itself, but it does rhyme.”
— Mark Twain

The Shanghai Suicide of Beatrice Den Adel, 1928

Posted: April 15th, 2017 | No Comments »

Reading through the old Shanghai newspapers between the wars it’s shocking how often suicide is recorded. Of course people committed suicide when diagnosed with terrible diseases, when they lost their fortunes, when there was no safety net to support them in hard times. Beatrice’s sucidie in April 1928 seems to have multiple causes – and perhaps, at the end of the day, none of those speculated in the papers….

Beatrice took an overdose of drugs on April 6 1928 in Shanghai. She was at the time described as Shanghai’s ‘only American dancing girl’ which may or may not have been quite accurate. Either way she was American and she was a dancer, though had not perhaps been born Beatrice Den Adel. She was 33 years old and had been dancing in nightclubs and cabarets in the Far East for eleven years reportedly.

The newspapers suggested Beatrice was getting a little old for dancing; that the more recently arrived and younger Russian emigre girls mocked her for her age. They were said to be jealous of her popularity and her ability to speak English. The authorities in Shanghai tried to trace her relatives – she had left $6,000 behind. They had only two clues – she claimed to be from Chicago and that her mail arrived from Denver.

That’s all I know at the moment – I don’t have a photo of her, I don’t know where sh danced in Shanghai or where she originally came from and if the authorities ever tracked her next of kin down.




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