Thursday, February 20, 2014

wacky tacky Icons: The Kessler Twins

Is there anything better than a tall, cool, blonde of foreign extraction?  The answer is obviously yes, two tall, cool, blondes of foreign extraction - with bonus points for being twins....

...and having matching wolfhounds!!!

Better known to their native-German following as "Die Kessler Zwillinge" and their adoptive-Italian audiences as "Le Gemelle Kessler," Alice and Ellen Kessler, "The Kessler Twins," were destined for stardom despite being born in the turbulence of pre-War Germany (although, being the epitome of the idealized-Aryan genotype was certainly no a hindrance in that particular climate).

Alice und Ellen
(in no particular order)

Emerging relatively unscathed from the war years, Alice and Ellen put their vocal and dance training to use and quickly gained nationwide notoriety.  Their performance of "Heute Abend Wollen Wir Tanzen Geh'n (Tonight We Want to Go Dancing)," earned them placement in the top ten of the Eurovision Song Contest of 1959 and international acclaim.

"Heute Abend Wollen Wir Tanzen Geh'n" - The Kessler Twins

Like a long-legged, living embodiment of a Doublemint Gum ad, the Kessler's doubled their pleasure and
doubled their fun by finding fame in France (a residence at Paris' famed Lido night club) and super-stardom in Italy.
(Source: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15)

"Quando, Quando, Quando" - The Kessler Twins
(Many of the sisters' hits were sung in Italian or a German-Italian hybrid)

The poster children for post-War multiculturalism, I wondered if the twins ever became a star-attraction in the United States; Life Magazine of February 22, 1963 answered my question.

"Sensations from Germany: Kessler Twins"

While never quite the hit they were in Italy,
The Kessler Twins appeared with Ed Sullivan,
Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin, Red Skelton,
and Danny Kaye while in America.

Apparently, they also made a lasting impression on a young,
US Army Sergeant on leave in Paris, namely Elvis Presley. 

I think I love The Kessler Twins because they are the kind of novelty act that just doesn't exist anymore.  Besides Matthew & Gunnar, who was the last big sister twins act?  And when was the last time you heard of a long-standing nightclub engagement?  When was the last time you heard mini-dress-wearing German sisters sing a Lou Rawls' song in Italian?

"A Natural Man" - The Kessler Twins

I am definitely not the biggest fan of contemporary pop music but I will say that these kids nowadays are well-produced and expected to be polished within an inch of their lives; all the Kessler Twins had to do was be pretty and twirl.  It is their mere passing acquaintance with synchronization that warms the wacky tacky cockles of my heart (aren't twins supposed to have some intuitive connection???).

I also love their always-of-the-moment styling.
Hello, mermaid-hair helmets!!!

Are you a fan of The Kessler Twins?  Even better, are you a twin yourself?  The Kesslers continued to perform well into the 1980's; I don't know if they are still performing but I for one would love to see a live Kessler spectacular, wouldn't you?  "Ciao-f Wiedersehen!"


Mr. Tiny


  1. I have never heard of them! In that photo with Ed Sullivan, the twin on the right (Alice? Ellen?) looks like Julie Andrews and Georgy Girl era Lynn Redgrave in one slim, beautiful package (or two!). I I love that the Quando Quando video was a Scopitone film!!!!!!! Those hulking, "movie" jukeboxes were huge in Italy and France, way less so here. Big thanks for introducing me to these gorgeous gals!

    1. She (they) do look like an Andrews-Redgrave hybrid! I love watching the scopitone videos - hours of kooky eye candy!!!

  2. I've never heard of such! How fascinating and cool they were such a hit in Italy! These ladies are wonderful, even if they are bygone.

    1. I learned from my German friend that they still make occasional appearances in Germany; even more motivation to get to Deutschland ASAP!!!

  3. German TV did a very good documentary about the Kessler Zwillinge a few years ago, with amazing historic fotos & filmclips plus interviews with them. you can find it on Youtube: