Died Chris Owens, dancer, singer, heart of old Bourbon Street | News

Entertainer Chris Owens, who has sung for an audience in New Orleans for more than six decades, died Tuesday morning of a heart attack at his apartment on St. Louis Street, her longtime manager Kitty Adams said.

The French Quarter is the heart of New Orleans, Bourbon Street is the heart of the French Quarter, and since 1956 Chris Owens has been the heart of Bourbon Street. She was one of the street’s iconic stars in the era of Al Hirt and Pete Fountain.

Over the years, she has performed for generations, and her shows have become the cornerstone of one of the world’s most famous entertainment destinations.

Owens ’age remained one of New Orleans’ mysteries. Adams declined to disclose this, saying that Owens “was old enough to know what she wanted, young enough to do it, and her number didn’t matter.” For those who want more confidence, according to a long-standing newspaper publication, she was 23 in 1956, which means she was 88.

WWL-TV news anchor Eric Polsen visited New Orleans from his hometown of St. Louis at age 13 when he saw photos of a long-legged shaggy star posted near her club. “I saw a photo of her on Bourbon Street and said, ‘Wow, wow,'” Paulsen recalled, laughing.

Later, as a 20-year-old New Orleans TV presenter, Paulsen occasionally interviewed Owens, and they became friends. She asked him to accompany her to the 2022 Easter parade.

He said Owens ’desire for fun impressed him. “She was Energizer’s Bunny,” he said. Until COVID curtailed most of the live performances, “she danced the storm”.

Grew up in Texas

Born Christine Shaw, she grew up on her father’s ranch in West Texas. After high school, she attended nursing school, but at age 20 packed her bags and went to see her sister, who had already moved to Crescent City. She found a job at the front desk before meeting Solo Owens, New Orleans ’biggest car mogul who would become her husband.

The couple, especially Chris, regularly paid attention to The Blue Room and other nightclubs. So much so that Sol put her as the headliner of the new French Quarter Dance Club, Club 809, on the corner of Bourbon and St. Louis streets. Eisenhower was in the White House. Chris was 23. The world immediately noticed.







Behind-the-scenes spokesman Chris Owens, Kitty Adams puts on a boa for his Father’s Day show at his club on Bourbon Street in New Orleans on Sunday, June 20, 2021. This is the first time she has played at her club since the closure of the coronavirus. (Photo by Chris Granger | The Times-Picayune | The New Orleans Advocate)




Club 809 did not work for a whole year, as The Times-Picayune columnist, entertainment columnist Howard Jacobs, suffocating, explained Owen’s call: “She is a royal, bright and sensual brunette of undeniable beauty and grace. But the main factor that brought it to the attention of New York and Hollywood is the dynamic quality, which in terms of hot Latin rhythms suggests the pulsating power of the DC-6, which warms up before takeoff.

Throughout her life, she hastened to point out that she became the brightest star of the dynamic film, remaining “the only legal act that did not involve removing all my clothes,” as she said in an interview with The Times-Picayune in 1974. .







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Chris Owens poses before cutting himself in front of Chris Owens’ Easter parade in New Orleans, Saturday, April 3, 2021. Entertainer Chris Owens hosted a cocktail party with ticket holders and her entourage and then traveled through the Upper Town to the Palace of Commanders and down St. Charles Avenue in a mule-drawn carriage. Due to the coronavirus pandemic, Owens was unable to officially hold his annual Easter parade. (Photo by Sophia Hermer, NOLA.com, The Times-Picayune | The New Orleans Advocate)




Latin American dances were a hobby of the beginning of the Cold War. “It was very popular at the time,” Owens said in an interview in 2017, “especially some dances like samba, cha-cha, mamba.”

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Inspired by Tropicana

Chris and Sol learned this firsthand during their regular trips to the Tropicana Club in Havana, a fashionable architectural marvel where major performances took place, from Carmen Miranda to Tito Puente. Chris ’congo-based performances and her bright costumes can be traced back to the Tropicans.

It was the era of the TV show “I Love Lucy,” which brought Cuban band leader Desi Arnaz to American families everywhere. Chris entertained the Vieux Carre audience by dancing under the 45s she and Sol had gathered during their travels.

The couple’s plans to buy an apartment in Havana ended with the successful uprising of Castro in 1959. In a 2017 interview, Owens said it was embarrassing to let armed government soldiers out on the street “dressed before nine” to the party.

Styles have changed in the French Quarter: from the hippies of the 1960s through the disco era to the present. But Owens insisted, welcoming generation after generation in his shelter of gentle pranks. Over the years, she has become an icon in a world that overuses the word icon.







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Chris Owens poses before cutting himself in front of Chris Owens’ Easter parade in New Orleans, Saturday, April 3, 2021. Entertainer Chris Owens hosted a cocktail party with ticket holders and her entourage and then traveled through the Upper Town to the Palace of Commanders and down St. Charles Avenue in a mule-drawn carriage. Due to the coronavirus pandemic, Owens was unable to officially hold his annual Easter parade. (Photo by Sophia Hermer, NOLA.com, The Times-Picayune | The New Orleans Advocate)




In 1979, Sol died, and Chris took over as the owner of the club and apartments above, becoming an exemplary woman entrepreneur in the French Quarter.

The parade will continue

In 1983, the seemingly eternal singer became the eternal queen of the Easter parade, which annually attracts thousands of people to the French Quarter to see riders with hats and compete for the pastel soft toys she threw.

Chris Owens ’last Easter parade in the French Quarter in 2019 was marred by tragedy. The annual procession took place shortly after the deaths of longtime Owens companion Mark Davison and her sister Bernel L. Schmitz. According to her manager Adams, Owens planned to take part in this year’s march, despite the fact that she fell in July.

Adams said that after the accident, Owens had no plans to return to performances. But, at Owens’ request, the April 17 parade will take place as usual, Adams said.

Owens has been a regular at the New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival. Maracas in hand, her life-size bronze statue stands in New Orleans Park of Musical Legends on Bourbon Street.

Upon learning of Owens ’death, New Orleans Mayor Latoya Cantrell made a statement that read:“ Today we mourn the death of Chris Owens, one of the brightest lights of the French Quarter. The remarkable artist and star of her nightclub on Bourbon Street, Mrs. Owens, was charismatic, beautiful and iconic. This news is even sadder, as it is only a few weeks before the Easter parade, which became her most glorious scene. May she rest in the perfect peace of God. ”

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