Zorita: as scanned from the May 1942 issue of IT magazine. Zorita is shown wearing her costume for her 1/2 and 1/2 act where she portrayed both a bride and groom on their wedding night.
At nine months old, Zorita was adopted from a Youngstown, Ohio orphanage. When only four, her adoptive father died and her adoptive mother soon remarried, and her new step-father abused Zorita from the very beginning. Hence, to escape a tumultuous home-life, Zorita married when she was only 15 years old. The marriage did not last, and Zorita worked odd jobs to support herself. While working as a cigarette girl at the New York State Fair, she saw her first burlesque style show and became captivated by the dancer. Shortly thereafter, she made herself a costume and waltzed into a local club claiming to be the dancer from the fair, and landed her first burlesque job.
Zorita’s trademark name and dancing companion did not come until a little later in her career (mid-1930s). At that time she was working as a dancer at the San Diego California Pacific International Exposition. It was there that she befriended another Expo employee, who was a snake handler. At the end of the Exposition, he gifted her with a large indigo snake named Elmer, and she and Elmer moved to San Francisco. A theater owned in San Franciso hired her to do a veil dance and gave her the name Zorita, but after learning of her unique pet, he convinced her to work Elmer into her act….they rest, as they say, is history.
Winnie Garrett - The Flaming Redhead: signed, vintage 8x10 photo
A popular burlesque dancer in the 1940s through 1950s, Winnie was a multi-talented woman. She was one of the top paid stars, and unlike many other dancers, she invested her money. Including owning stock, and serving as vice president of Famous Records (music LPs) in New Jersey. Winnie promoted the company, and its artists, during radio interviews for burlesque shows. She also owned a music publishing business. Winnie was not all work though; she enjoyed playing golf and was a talented watercolor artist. She married Harry Eisen, an architect, on 16 May 1951 and they resided in New York City.
Sequin (Geri Garner): as scanned from the December 1956 issue of Glamour Parade
Sequin’s burlesque debut was as a chorus girl at the famous Follies Theater in Los Angeles, CA — where much to her chagrin, that week the chorus girls were to perform the high-kicking cancan! Her initial appearances as a stripper were under the name Gerri Donelle, but her stage name was quickly changed to Sequin - Sparkling Beauty to the 4th Dimension. She worked with Ted Littleton in developing acts that included a bashful bride, a harem girl routine and one that even featured a red velvet swing. Sequin’s classy acts - with no bumps or grinds - would influence other dancers try burlesque, including The Fascinating Jennifer. After retiring from burlesque, Sequin returned to jazz singing, her first love. She performed with famous musician too numerous to list and would eventually marry Tony Tamburello, who was a piano player and closely worked with Tony Bennett for many years.
Noel Toy - The Chinese Sally Rand: vintage 8x10 news service photo
Noel Toy was born Ngun Yee on 27 December 1918 in San Francisco to parents from Canton, China. In 1939, while attending University of California - Berkley, Noel was hired to perform as a chorus girl at the Golden Gate International Exposition in San Francisco. Noel performed in the Chinese village portion of the expo’s Pageant of the Pacific, a celebration of the nations of the Pacific Ocean. Charlie Low, the owner of the Forbidden City - a Chinese nightclub in San Francisco - saw Noel at the exposition and approached her about dancing at his club. Noel began performing at the Forbidden City in 1940. She gracefully performed with large ostrich fans, and was quickly dubbed “The Chinese Sally Rand”. Perhaps capitalizing on this nickname, Noel also began performing a bubble dance with a large transparent balloon, another well-known Sally Rand act.
Within a few years, Noel was on the East Coast if the USA, performing in the most popular New York nightclubs including Leon and Eddies, the Stork Club and The Latin Quarter. While performing at Lou Walter’s Latin Quarter, Noel caught the eye of young soldier and actor, Carleton Young and the couple married in December 1945. Once married, Noel quit touring and routinely performing in burlesque and followed her husband into acting. She had parts in several movies alongside actors like Clark Gable, Humphrey Bogart, and Betty Grable. Though Noel primarily quit acting in the mid-1950s, she would occasionally accept bit parts in shows like Police Woman and M*A*S*H, and a few films as well. Noel and Carleton remained married until his death in 1994. Noel died in 2003, at age 84, and her and Carleton’s ashes are interred together at the Hollywood Forever Cemetery.