Indisputably 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 well as her perfect bust, once called “the best props in Hollywood” by Dean Martin and Jerry Lewis) enabled her to rise from a life on a rural cotton farm to a front stage superstar. At the age of 20, with two marriages behind her, Banks moved to Hollywood and began working as a chorus girl. There she became friends with next-door neighbor Marilyn Monroe. Banks adopted the stage name Tempest Storm in 1950 and changed it legally in 1957, shortly after having her breasts insured by Lloyd’s of London for one million dollars.
Storm has preformed extensively throughout the US, UK, and Canada and has been featured in countless men’s magazines. Her list of film credits include Russ Meyer’s French Peep Show (1950), Paris After Midnight (1951), Striptease Girl (1952), and Irving Klaw’s Buxom Beauties (1956). Storm’s best-known film is most likely Klaw’s cult classic Teaserama (1955), which also starred Betty Paige in her last mainstream feature project.
Storm is well knowed for having affiliations with rather notable men including Elvis Presley, Mickey Rooney, Louis Armstrong, Sammy Davis Jr., and gangster Mickey Cohen as well as a heavily publicized relationship with John F. Kennedy. In 1959, she fell in love with and married jazz singer Herb Jeffries. Both Storm’s manager and MGM Studios forbade the interracial couple, and dropped all Tempest’s contracts when she went ahead with the marriage anyway.
Storm is generally considered to have one of the longest careers of any burlesque dancer. As recently as 1995, Storm posed in the same issue of Leg Show magazine with then-newcomer Dita Von Tease. In 2011, Jack White of the band White Stripes featured her on an album entitled Interview With Tempest Storm released by his company Third Man Records. Currently, Storm is the subject of a feature documentary about her life, Tempest Storm: Burlesque Queen, set to hit theaters in early 2015. She lives in Las Vegas, NV.