Isadora Duncan’s Amilcar

She who lives by the scarf

ISADORA Duncan was very much the mad Madonna of her day, although she was never much like a virgin. Isadora was a highprofile “expressionist dancer” in America who once stood on a stage in Boston and declared her communist leanings by exposing her nipple on stage and shouting: “This is red! So am I!”

Sadly, she’s more famous for removing her top in a more spectacular way. In 1927, her long, flowing scarf got caught in the wheel of a French-made Amilcar – not a Bugatti as portrayed in the film of her life (above) – and very nearly decapitated her.

Duncan probably should have steered clear of cars. Earlier in her life, her driver neglected to set the handbrake on her vehicle and it rolled into the Seine in Paris, drowning her two children (both born out of wedlock) and her nanny.

The crazy communist was known for her flagrant affairs with lovers of both sexes and on the day of her death had just climbed into the Amilcar of a handsome mechanic when the scarf was caught in the spokes of the rear wheel, gripping around her throat so tightly that she was thrown from the car with her neck almost severed.

Her last words are reported to have been “farewell my friends, I go to glory”, but some doubt has been cast on this account, with one witness later admitting she’d actually said “I go to love” – as in, “it’s this mechanic’s lucky day”.

It wasn’t.


Duncan’s high-profile conversion to communism included declaring herself a Russian citizen and therefore being exiled from the US at the age of 22. She lived in the Soviet Union and Europe u ntil her death, at age 50.


Sadly, the Amilcar’s global fame doesn’t stretch much further than its celebrity infamy, but it was successful enough to be produced from 1921 to 1940, when some unpleasantness with the Germans put an end to production.