Madame Sherri | New Hampshire's Most Eccentric Resident?
The couple decided to return to America in 1911, boarding the White Star liner Oceania, headed for New York City. As Macaluso was still a fugitive, an elaborate cover story was concocted, involving a prominent Italian diplomatic family and an awkward meeting with Madame’s new in-laws. The ruse worked, and the Big Apple press ate it up. “Tears of bride melt young Riela’s family,” ran the headline in the New York World, describing the fictional encounter on the dock.
Andre and Antoinette settled into New York society, and opened a millinery on 42nd Street, designing costumes for the brightest lights on Broadway, including outfitting the Zeigfeld Follies.
It wasn’t until July of 1912 that Reila’s past came back to haunt him, due to a genuinely astonishing coincidence. On Wednesday, July 3rd, he told police at the West 57th Street station that jewels, worth between $12,000 and $30,000, had been stolen from his wife by a servant. Due to the enormity of the theft, the Deputy Commissioner assigned one Captain Gloster to the case, who in turn secured the help of Detective Fitzsimmons, from the District Attorney’s office. While interviewing Reila, Fitzsimmons had a sudden revelation, and yelled, “you’re Anthony Macaluso!” before promptly placing him under arrest.
Reila was incarcerated in the infamous New York City prison, “The Tombs,” for a few days, before being released on bail. Ultimately, the charges against him were dropped, due to lack of evidence.
With his name cleared, Reila began to pursue his dancing career in earnest, while Antoinette continued designing elaborate costumes for the stage.
In 1916, Antoinette decided she needed a new, flashier name to attract business. She had always been an avid admirer of Otto Hauerbach’s play, “Madame Sherry,” and decided to adopt the moniker for her husband and herself. Accordingly, on November 10th of that year, she marched into the New York City Registry and made arrangements to open a business under the name “Andre-Sherri.”
The next eight years saw the couple realizing tremendous success, as Andre took his dancing revue onto the Vaudeville circuit, complete with magicians, comedians, and a bevy of scantily-clad young ladies. It was during this time that they began their connection with Charles LeMaire, a pianist who decided to pursue a career in costume design. Taking the young man on as a counter assistant, they encouraged him in his new vocation, and he soon found himself working with Flo Zeigfeld. Eventually, his success would take him out to Hollywood, where he was employed by 20th Century Fox.
All of this good fortune would come to a crashing halt in 1924. Plagued with venereal disease, Andre went blind and insane, and was admitted to the Manhattan State Hospital. On October 19, he finally passed away.
To say Sherri was shattered by this turn of events would be an understatement. New York’s night life no longer held the allure it once did, and she began to look elsewhere for solace. It was at this time that she befriended stage actor Jack Henderson, who told her he owned a house on the Gulf Road in West Chesterfield, New Hampshire. He started to invite her along to his parties, which were booze-fueled affairs featuring naked girls jumping out of cakes.
Over the next five years, Sherri was in regular attendance at these celebrations, and by 1929, decided to pull up her New York roots and move to the Granite State for good. Through Henderson, she had met a neighbor, George Furlone, who owned a small farmhouse on a 70-tract. She purchased it, and then began buying adjoining vacant properties, eventually acquiring 600 acres.