Jadin Wong: as scanned from the cover of a vintage program from Charlie Low’s Forbidden City nightclub in San Francisco, CA.
Jadin was born 24 May 1913 in Marysville, CA. As a teenager she ran away from home to study dance and pursue a career in show business. She made her debut as a feature dancer in the early 1930s at Charlie Low’s Asian-themed nightclub Forbidden City, in San Francisco, CA. During WWII, Jadin travelled Europe extensively, entertaining American troops and once even had to parachute to safety from a crashing helicopter. Always the show business professional, before jumping from the helicopter, Jadin requested a solider hand her her make-up bag…as there would be reporters on the ground. In the 1970s Ms. Wong took on a new career and opened Jadin Wong Management, a NYC agency specializing in representing Asian-american talent. Jadin was honored by President Reagan for her service entertaining troops during WWII and in 2002 was honored with a Lifetime Achievement Award at the Lincoln Center. Ms. Wong died at the age of 96 on 30 May 2010.
Zaza: as scanned from the May 1942 issue of It magazine.
Zaza hailed from Dunkirk, New York and was a talented dancer in revue style shows of the 1940s. She specialized in what was then termed ‘Oriental’, hula, jive and acrobatic dancing.
Sally Keith - The Queen of the Tassels - as scanned from the June 1946 issue of Beauty Parade magazine.
Though Sally toured the burlesque circuits, she is most closely associated with the city of Boston. She was Boston’s very own burlesque queen and she reigned supreme performing at the Crawford House in Scollay Square. Sally was best known for her tassel twirling and her ability to twirl her tassels in opposite directions at the same time. She was so popular, that the Crawford house even named a drink after her: The Tassel Tosser. Legend has it that as a young teen, Sally saw a vaudeville show that featured a dancer with amazing muscle control. It so inspired Sally, that she went home and clipped the tassels from her mother’s curtains (sometimes it says a lampshade), stitched them to her bra and panties and began perfecting the art of tassel twirling.
Marta Dane & Rex: vintage 7x9 news service photo dated 14 February 1963
At the time of this photo, this Detroit gal was dancing in San Francisco. Marta’s trusty pal Rex, kept her company in her dressing room, and protected her when she walked home late at night. Rex was a trained police dog and the grandson of Flame, one of the German Shepherds that played Rin Tin Tin. Bet ‘ol Rex shocked more than one ‘stage door johnnie’!!
Blaze Starr: modern 8x10 print signed by Blaze.
Blaze acquired this baby leopard with intentions of working him into a stage act. She hid pieces of meat in her costume to train the leopard to paw at, and hence remove, her costume. Unfortunately, the leopard a wee bit TOO motivated by food and he clawed Blaze, which led to his retirement from the shortest animal career in show biz!
Hinda Wausau - The Tunisian Temptress: vintage 8x10 photo
Hinda Wausau, born in Connecticut, began her show business career as a chorus girl in 1928. One night, during a performance, the shoulder strap on her costume broke and the audience reportedly cheered wildly. Hence, Hinda claimed to be the creator of the modern strip-tease. She was a versatile burlesque star performing stripe-tease acts, singing and working as a ‘talking woman’ with the comics.
The legendary Lili St. Cyr died on this day (Jan 29) 1999.
Lili St. Cyr: as scanned from the cover of the September 1950 issue of Sir! magazine
Lili was born Willis Marie Van Schaack in 1918 in Minneapolis, MN. The family eventually relocated to California and Lili and her half-sister Barbara Moffett would both begin their show business careers as chorus girls at the Florentine Gardens in Hollywood. At the time, Lili was still using a version of her given name: Marie Van Schaack. After Florentine Gardens, Lili worked at the Music Box in San Francisco - which was at one point owned by Sally Rand. Eventually she would adopt the stage name Lili St. Cyr and become one of the most famous strip-tease artists of the 1940s-1970s.