She’s done it again.


Meryl Streep has portrayed another one-of-kind woman, Florence Foster Jenkins (1868-1941), in a poignant film of the same title, released to theaters last month. No words can describe its impact. You have to see it to believe it.

A Manhattan heiress and socialite in the ‘twenties and ‘thirties, Mme. Jenkins, her name to her adoring public, doggedly pursued her ambition to become a diva and financed her voice lessons; arranges soirees, in full dress, in privates salons and other locales; performed in ornate self-designed costumes; and made phonograph records for her friends among the millionaires in her social circle. She even wrote her own reviews that were circulated in The Musical Courier and other specialty music publications.

Passion for making music buoyed her for decades. Mme. Jenkins’s infectious joy, wholehearted performances, and quirky mien attracted enthusiastic audiences; seated among them were opera stars Lily Pons and Enrico Caruso, Italian conductor Arturo Toscanini, songwriter Cole Porter, and many other celebrities.

The twist in all of this was that Mme. Jenkins had suffered hearing loss as a result of the medical care (mercury and arsenic) for syphilis that she contracted from her husband she later divorced. She could not sing, but she did, anyway. No matter that she could not sustain a note, that she was often flat.

Thanks to Meryl Streep’s artistry, we again experience this woman with a simple spirit, an engaging heart, a passion for music—albeit it, off key—who gave her all. Florence Foster Jenkins is a must see.