Sally Rand (1904-1979)

Sally Rand portraitNot many performers come to burlesque after having had a successful career elsewhere, but that’s exactly what Sally Rand did. Rand started in the theater as a teenager in Kansas City and enjoyed some success. Deciding to make her name in Hollywood, she joined the Ringling Bros. Circus and traveled west until she reached California, where she quickly started racking up bit parts before joining a stock company headed by young Cecil B. DeMille, who put her in leading roles in his silent films.

Rand’s beauty and physicality worked to great advantage in the silent film era. Unfortunately, a severe lisp pushed her out of the movies after talking pictures became the norm...

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RIP Novita, The Pixie of Burlesque (1932-2015)

Novita, The Pixie of Burlesque

We are saddened today to announce the passing of Novita, The Pixie of Burlesque. Novita was one of the founding members of the Exotic Dancers League (EDL) in 1955, a section of the American Guild of Variety Artists (which Novita had been a member of since age 13) dedicated to earning better pay and working conditions for exotic dancers, which in 1965 gave birth to the Burlesque Hall of Fame.

Born Rose Marie Locke in Houston, Texas, Rosie Mitchell, or Novita as she would come to be known (a name given her by her mother), began dancing at age 3. By grade school, she was performing regularly and beginning to distinguish herself as an artist, ultimately winning a scholarship to the Denver Art Institute...

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Tempest Storm

For this “Who’s Who in BurlyQ”, we turn to Kaitlyn Regehr, burlesque expert and co-host on the Canadian and UK program “Re-Vamped”, PhD candidate in performance and women’s sexuality at King’s College London, and producer of Tempest Storm: Burlesque Queen, a feature documentary exploring Tempest’s life and her huge impact in not just burlesque but popular culture as a whole. Contribute to the making of the film by donating to their Kickstarter campaign by October 9, 2013.

Teaserama posterIndisputably one of the best known burlesque dancers from the ‘50s and ‘60s and listed in the top 50 of Playboy’s most glamorous women of the century, Tempest Storm is truly an icon in the history of burlesque.

Born Annie Blanche Banks in Eastman, Georgia, in 1928, Storm’s ambition and talent (as wel...

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Bambi Jones

Bambi JonesRita Hayworth, Betty Grable and other screen sirens from the 1940s gave Doris Kotzan a glimpse into a life more glamorous than her hometown of Holyoke, Massachusetts could offer. She was only 17 when she decided to leave Holyoke and her given name behind to follow her dream- to be a star.

She was dancing to the jukebox at the hotel bar where she worked when a photographer from a nightclub recognized her talent. He asked her to dance for their club, and Bambi Jones was thrilled, as she loved to dance. Later, an ex-Rockette scouted Bambi, and she soon began touring the burlesque stages of the United States, South America, Mexico, and Canada.

Bambi Jones with Kitten DeVille

Married to a politician in Nevada, Bambi was ‘in the closet’ about her burlesque stardom for many years...

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Noel Toy

Ed. note: This blogpost originally appeared on Soft Film as as “Noel Toy: Our Lady of Feathers.” It is a reprint of an article that first appeared in the cheesecake tabloid CO-EDS (May 1942). The photos are accompanied by their original captions.

U. OF C.’s NOEL TOY NOBODY’S PLAYTHING
CHINA GIRL CAN DISH IT OUT

Broadway’s most publicized Chinese (American-born) glamor girl is appropriately named California Co-ed Noel Toy. Tinytot Toy (five feet tall) was a sophomore language major at University of California when she received her first assignment in the chorus of a San Francisco World’s Fair midway attraction. There she was discovered, signed up at Fair’s close by Frisco’s famed Forbidden City hotspot.

Less than a year later, with but five month’s experience as a fandancer behind her, s...

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