Sally Rand: vintage 8x10 photo
Sally is shown sitting behind one of the large, sheer latex balloons she used for her ‘Bubble Dance’. In the mid-1930s, Sally started a factory to manufacturer her own balloons for her act. It was her attempt to keep control of her new act, since she complained that others were copying her famous fan dance. Sally always claimed to originate the fan dance, but a Ziegfeld dancer Faith Bacon counter-acted this claim.
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.
Patti Paget: vintage 4x5 Irving Klaw photo
Patti was a popular burlesque dancer in the 1950s, a popular pin up model for Irving Klaw’s business, and also appeared in Klaw’s 1956 film Buxom Beautease.
Noel Toy - The Chinese Sally Rand: vintage 8x10 news service photo from 1941. Noel is showing off the fans she provided to perform with at a Chinese War Relief Benefit (WWII). Originally she refused to perform as she said the fans were too small and not dense enough, but the show must go on!
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 retired from burlesque dancing 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.