Eleanor Sheridan: vintage 8x10 photo
Eleanor started in burlesque in the early 1940s, took two years off to dance on Broadway, and returned to working as a striptease artist in burlesque in the mid-1940s. She was a popular performer and worked in burlesque until she retired from the stage in 1954. She then returned to Indianapolis, IN to live with her mother and teach dramatics and voice at the Kirshbloom Jewish Center.
Jessica Rogers - The WOW Girl: signed, vintage 8x10 photo
Jessica’s sister Linda Rogers was also a burlesque performer who eventually settled in Baltimore, MD. In Fall of 1953 Linda’s husband Robert Houseman (sometimes spelled Housman) purchased the Baltimore Clover Theater from Sol Goodman. Sol Goodman sold the Clover to focus on his other night-spot, the 2 o’Clock Club…which he would eventually sell to Blaze Starr.
Barbara Belmore: vintage 8x10 photo
In a crazy plot, befitting a police drama, Barbara was caught up in a murder investigation in 1946/7. Turns out Mr. Cote, a married man, had been dating burlesque dancer Barbara Belmore on the sly… telling her he was single. Barbara had a date with Mr Cotes the night he was murdered and, hence, she was the last person to see him alive. Of course, Barbara was initially a suspect, but later only a witness at the murder trial.
After many twists, it was found that Mrs Bertha Surprise Cote bludgeoned her husband to death, after he returned home from his date with Miss Belmore on the night of 28 December 1946. But wait, the sordid tale is not over yet!! Initially, Mrs. Cote accused Mr. Steele, her lover, of killing Mr. Cote. But in ‘Perry Mason’ worthy twist, Mr. Steele denied BOTH killing Mr. Cote and being Mrs. Cote lover. Eventually investigators found that Mr. & Mrs.Cote had a less than perfect marriage. In 1941 Mrs. Cote discovered that her husband was already married to another woman, and had him arrested for bigamy. After 3 years, when he was released from prison, Mr. Cote obtained a divorce from his original wife and re-married Bertha. However, Bertha was repeatedly beaten and abused by her ‘new’ husband and in an effort to collect on a double indemnity (pays 2x if the death is accidental or murder) life insurance policy, decided to kill her husband, and try and pin it on a ‘lover’. The bad news for Mrs. Cote, the life insurance policy had expired the week before the murder, the good news, given the history of abuse, and that her husband was out carousing with a showgirl the night of the murder, the jury only charged her with manslaughter, for which she served only 3 years.
Ada Leonard: vintage 8x10 photo
Ada was born 22 July 1915 in Lawton, Oklahoma to a father who was an actor and a mother who was an dancer and musician. Ada started her career in show business in Chicago as a stripper. Ada’s act was always classy and, much like Gypsy Rose Lee, she had a knack for making it seem like she removed more clothing than she did. By 1940, however, Ada would take over as the front woman for an all-female band. At first the band members, were leery of being fronted by a striptease artist, but after seeing Ada’s class-act and her hold over the audience, they decided she was just what they needed. Ada Leonard’s All American Girls toured military bases with the USO. Originally they played a selection of favorite dance tunes from the era. But when America entered WWII, the band revamped their style and became a very popular swing band. Ada Leonard’s All American Girls stayed together right into the 1950s, when they had a variety style television show from 1952-54. Though not a musician herself, the band members always held Ada in high regard as she used what she had learned in burlesque to protect the band’s interests against dis-honest managers and bookers. Ada died 29 November 1997 in Santa Monica, CA.
Solitaire: vintage 8x10 photo
Hawaiian born Solitaire, had studied dance and piano as a child and came to the mainland in hopes of making it in theater. She did have a few small roles, but decided to start stripping to earn more money. She was an instant success at the Sahara on Bourbon Street in New Orleans. Her popularity may have had something to do with her refusal to wear pasties. Instead she covered herself with a mink stole…..well, usually covered herself.
Bonnie Bell - The Ding Dong Girl: vintage 4x5 Irving Klaw photo
Bonnie was also billed as the “Ding Dong Girl” because her costume had bells on it in all the right places. But in this 1950s photo for Irving Klaw, Bonnie sports a lace bra with black satin hands on the cups….for extra support, no doubt!
Delilah Jones (Doris Gohlke): as scanned from the cover of the October 1961 issue of Tab magazine.
Born in Germany, Delilah was Miss Teenage Berlin in 1957 and was the runner up in the Miss Germany pageant. She was also a very popular pin up model in the 1950s and 1960s, usually under the name Doris Gohlke. She began her burlesque career in Las Angeles in the late 1950s, and danced with such legends as Sally Rand and Tempest Storm. Delilah is now a legend in her own-right, and performed a stunning routine at the 2013 Burlesque Hall of Fame.