Stripping Gypsy: The Life of Gypsy Rose Lee

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Oxford University Press, May 8, 2009 - History - 320 pages
Whenever stripper Gypsy Rose Lee encountered public criticism, she spoke frankly in her own defense. "Thousands have seen me at my--ah--best; and thousands have made no objections." Noralee Frankel's lively biography, Stripping Gypsy, the first ever published about the highly mythologized Gypsy, examines the struggles Lee faced in making a lucrative and unconventional career for herself while maintaining a sense of dignity and social value. Frankel shows that the famous Miss Lee was an enigma, clearly struggling with her choices and her desire to be respected and legitimized. Those who know Gypsy Rose Lee only from the musical and film based on her rise to stardom will be surprised by what they uncover in Stripping Gypsy. In all ways, Lee trafficked in the incongruous: she was at once sex object, intellectual, and activist. In addition to her highly successful strip-tease act and film career, she published two mystery novels and a memoir, wrote two plays, and showed her original artwork in famed Modern Art-impresario Peggy Guggenheim's gallery. Lee also gained notoriety for her participation in liberal politics. As photographer Arnold Newman said, "She was a lady, a brilliant, bright woman who was the friend of many writers and intellectuals." Though she wasn't above using her femininity to full advantage, Lee aspired to much more than admiration for her physical beauty. Frankel places Lee's life in social and political context while detailing a fascinating entertainment career, in which Lee created and recreated her own identity to fit changing times. Frankel's biography transcends the sensationalism of stripping and asks the public to see the woman beneath the costume, a woman who always kept a little of herself shrouded in mystery.
 

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User Review  - setnahkt - LibraryThing

Part of the ladies of exotic dance reading program that started with Lili St. Cyr. (Next up – Candi Barr). Gypsy Rose Lee is certainly the most famous stripper who ever lived, and probably the most ... Read full review

Stripping Gypsy: the life of Gypsy Rose Lee

User Review  - Not Available - Book Verdict

Frankel (Freedom's Women: Black Women and Families in Civil War Era Mississippi) brings burlesque entertainer Gypsy Rose Lee to life in all her complexity in this absorbing account of Gypsy's career ... Read full review

Contents

1 Getting Started
1
2 The Burlesque Stage
13
3 Sophisticated Stripper
25
4 Follies with Girlfriends
38
5 The Rise and Fall of Louise Hovick
50
6 Failure as a Dutiful Wife
61
7 Death Dies and Mother
70
8 Finding the Body
80
14 On the Carnival Circuit
155
15 Nothing to Conceal
167
16 Strip Around the World
184
17 Back Home
195
18 Immortality in Book and Song
207
19 The Most Famous Former Stripper in the World
218
20 Aging Gracefully in Public
230
Acknowledgments
246

9 Cultured Stripper
95
10 Worlds Fair Stripper
104
11 The Naked Genius
119
12 Stripping for Labor and the War Effort
133
13 Motherhood
142
Notes
248
Bibliography
285
Index
295
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About the author (2009)

Noralee Frankel is the Assistant Director, Women, Minorities, and Teaching at the American Historical Association. Her books include Freedom's Women: Black Women and Families in Civil War Era Mississippi and Break Those Chains at Last: African Americans, 1860-1880 (OUP, 1996). She lives in the Washington, D.C, area.

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