vintage, nostalgia and memories


May 16, 2017

30 Rare and Amazing Vintage Photos That Document Daily Life of Gypsy Rose Lee, America's Most Celebrated Stripper, in 1949

Ask any American today under the age of, say, 40, "Who was Gypsy Rose Lee?" and chances are pretty good that the reaction will be utter bewilderment. "Gypsy Rose who?"

Gypsy Rose Lee (born Rose Louise Hovick, 1911-1970) was—and remains—a force in American popular culture not because she acted in films (although she did act in films) or because she wrote successful mystery novels (although she did write successful mystery novels). The reason Lee's influence endures can be attributed to two central elements of her remarkable, all-American life story: first, her 1957 memoir, Gypsy; and second, her career in burlesque, when she became the most famous—and perhaps the most singularly likable—stripper in the world.

"I'm probably the highest paid outdoor entertainer since Cleopatra," she's quoted as saying in the June 6, 1949 issue of LIFE. "And I don't have to stand for some of the stuff she had to."

These rare and amazing black and white photos were taken by George Skadding, a LIFE staffer far better known for photographing presidents (he was long an officer of the White House News Photographers Association) than burlesque stars. But, as the images in this gallery attest, Gypsy was hardly just another stripper; instead, as a performer, a wife and a mother of a young son, she had something about her—an approachable, self-deprecating demeanor aligned with a quiet self-certainty—that any politician would envy.

Burlesque star Gypsy Rose Lee with fellow performers in Memphis, Tenn., 1949.

Gypsy Rose Lee in front of a crowd in Memphis, Tenn., 1949.

Gypsy Rose Lee, 1949.

Gypsy Rose Lee in Memphis, Tenn., 1949.

Gypsy Rose Lee in Memphis, Tenn., 1949.

Gypsy dictates a letter to her secretary, Brandy Bryant, who doubles up by doing a strip bit in the show.

Gypsy Rose Lee (left) and other performers in Memphis, Tenn., 1949.

Gypsy Rose Lee (right) dresses other performers in Memphis, Tenn., 1949.

Gypsy Rose Lee (center) dresses other performers in Memphis, Tenn., 1949.

Gypsy Rose Lee writes in her dressing room in Memphis, Tenn., 1949.

Gypsy Rose Lee (top) with another performer in Memphis, Tenn., 1949.

Gypsy Rose Lee (right) coaches another performer in Memphis, Tenn., 1949.

Gypsy Rose Lee (center) and other performers in Memphis, Tenn., 1949.

Audience at a Gypsy Rose Lee burlesque show in Memphis, Tenn., 1949.

In a reverse strip-tease act, Gypsy introduces near-nudes like Florence Bailey, and dresses them on the stage.

Gypsy Rose Lee burlesque show in Memphis, Tenn., 1949.

Gypsy Rose Lee autographs programs for fans after a show in Memphis, Tenn., 1949.

Gypsy Rose Lee and some of the dancers in her show pose for publicity pictures with the carnival's "midget," K. O. Erickson.

Gypsy Rose Lee with her third husband, the painter Julio de Diego, 1949.

Gypsy Rose Lee holds her 4-year-old son (by Otto Preminger), Erik, outside of her trailer, 1949.

Gypsy's friends in carnival include a sword swallower, a fire-eater and this cheerful bearded lady, Percilla Bejano, whose husband is the Alligator Man."

Gypsy Rose Lee with fellow carnival performers in Memphis, Tenn., 1949.

Gypsy's husband, Julio, paints the entrance while Gypsy and son watch. His attraction [in the carnival] is called Dream Show.

Gypsy Rose Lee, 1949.

Gypsy Rose rides the Little Dipper with her son, Erik, and her husband, Julio, in Memphis, Tenn., 1949.

Gypsy Rose Lee gives her son, Erik, cotton candy while her husband Julio De Diego watches, 1949.

Gypsy Rose Lee with her husband Julio and son Erik, 1949.

Gypsy Rose Lee with her husband, Julio de Diego, 1949.

Between shows Gypsy and family manage to sneak off for sundown fishing on Wolf River where Gypsy caught a catfish.

Gypsy Rose Lee, offstage, 1949.

(Photos: George Skadding—Time & Life Pictures/Getty Images)

0 comments:

Post a Comment


FOLLOW US
FacebookTumblrPinterestRSS

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...

12 Things You May Not Know About Halloween

Halloween. Odds are, you think of it as one of the best holidays of the year. If you really stop to think about Halloween and all the bizarr...

Browse by Decades

Popular Posts

Random Posts