Saturday, May 7, 2022

LOUISE HOVICK aka: GYPSY ROSE LEE (January 8, 1911 to January 28, 1954)

Lyrist Stephen Sondheim, composer Jule Styne, and writer Arthur Laurents, collaborated on a Broadway musical. On May 21, 1959, "Gypsy: A Musical Fable", opened at the Broadway Theatre, 1681 Broadway (53rd Street), New York City, starring Ethel Merman, but not as the title character.





The words "A Musical Fable" in the title would be dropped, and the title of the hit 1962 motion picture version, starring Rosalind Russell and Natalie Wood, would now simply read, "Gypsy".






But what is the "Fable" of the original title? 

The "Merriam-Webster Dictionary" has three definitions for the "Noun: Fable".  Arthur Laurents took the first of the three that reads:

a legendary story of supernatural happening
In the world of the musical stage, the story of "Mama Rose Hovick" is MYTHIC!


There's a song lyric by Stephen Sondheim in the show:

Let me entertain you, let me make you smile!

 but a "Smile" may cover-up the reality of the person smiling!         

                                                      



 

 

 

 









 

 


Her name was Rose Louise Hovick and she was born on January 8, 1911, at 4314 Frontenac Street. Seattle, Washington, although she always told people her birthday was January 9th. 


BEGINNINGS

According to some accounts, Louise's father was "The Seattle Times" advertising salesman, John "Jack" Olaf Hovick. While other accounts list him differently, as only a cub reporter for the same newspaper. 

Jack married Louise's mother, Rose Evangeline Thompson, on May 28, 1910, while both were said to have been in their teens. Rose had just graduated from a Convent School and if Jack was actually a cub reporter, the idea of him still being in his teens would fit better than as an advertising salesman for the newspaper. To confuse my reader, just a little, some biographers state Rose was 15-years old when she married Jack, others 19-years old. While they all state Rose was 19 when she gave birth to Louise. Rose was born on August 31, 1890, so by simple math, she had to be 20-years old when she gave birth to Louise, because Rose wouldn't be 21, until August 1911.

Louise's sister, Ellen Evangeline June Hovick, was born on November 8, 1912, in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada.

 Rose and Jack would divorce on August 20, 1915, presumably over his objections to her wanting costly dancing lessons for the girls. So, that Rose could fulfill her own dreams on being in show business through them.



  

 

Above, a photo of Rose Hovick, date unknown.

The Broadway musical, although using the title "Gypsy"actually centers around Rose. Today, many refer to her still as the "Ultimate Stage Mother" and that's part of the reality of Louise's life into 1954 and her mother's mythic personality.

After her divorce to Jack, Rose took the girls to her parent's house in Seattle to live. Rose's father Charlie Thompson worked in the baggage room of the "Great Northern Railroad" at the King Street Station. Rose's mother "Anna" was a seamstress who designed and made extravagant hats and exotic lingerie. 

Like Rose would do to Louise, but at longer periods of time, Anna Thompson would spend months away from home going to mining towns and lumber camps from Nevada to the Yukon. Where she sold her creations to prostitutes while leaving her daughter with a husband who worked all day.

It was after her divorce that Rose realized "Louise" had no real talent, but as her father pointed out, "Ellen" did. Charlie Thompson arranged for his granddaughter to perform at a local lodge's concert and soon two-years old Ellen was appearing regularly around the Seattle area, billed as "Baby June, the Pocket-sized Pavlova". Because she had appeared on the same stage as Russian born prima ballerina Anna Pavlova, seen below, during her farewell tour 1914 to 1917 and Rose didn't miss a trick to promote her daughter.



















As for Louise, while Rose and "Baby June" toured, she was left with her father Jack Hovick, Grandpa Thompson, or whomever Rose could find. Her nickname was "Plug", probably short for "Plug Ugly", because she was chubby, and wore her dark hair in a shiny bob. Louise did attend kindergarten, while Ellen was taught reading and writing from the stage hands on her tours.


BABY JUNE AND COMPANY

We know Rose married her second husband, traveling salesman, Judson Brennerman, on May 26, 1916. I could not locate when Rose divorced him, but:

 According to Laura Jacobs in her March 2003 "Vanity Fair" article entitled "Taking It Off". After Rose divorced Brennerman, she put Ellen on stage as the "Tiniest Toe Dancer in the World", her age was said to be 2 1/2. 

There is an obvious problem with this statement, if Ellen was born in 1912 and was even 3-years old. The year would have to be 1915, one year before Rose married Judson and at 2 1/2 the year may have still been 1914. The answer here, might be, that her divorced husband wasn't Judson Brennerman, but Jack Hovick. Which would confirm the year as 1915. 

To further confuse my reader, there were child labor laws, and Rose forged birth certificates for both of her daughters. Which made them younger, or older, depending upon the needs of the situation, such as getting children's fares on buses and trains. These forgeries contributed to the confusion over Ellen's year of birth, as being either 1912, 1913, or even 1916. 

That question would only be cleared up in 2010 by June Havoc aka: Hovick, who admitted to always being confused over what her birth year was, but shortly before she passed away. June stated the year was 1912 and that has become accepted by her biographers as accurate.

Below is a picture of Ellen as "Baby June".

 

 

 











 


There's a repeated story about "Baby June" and a two-year silent movie career with silent film comedian Harold Lloyd, but is it an accurate story?

According to June Havoc in her 1959 autobiography, "Early Havoc", at three-years old she started in silent films, but because of her age could not speak at the time. However, as "Baby June Hovick", she would cry on cue for the camera, when her mother reminded her about their dog being killed. 

However, was she really three-years old and not five-years old?

Based upon all available June Havoc film records, I looked at several, she was five-years old and not three for her first named film. The Harold Lloyd short subject entitled, "On the Jump", released March 31, 1918. It had been filmed at the "Hal Roach Studios", 8822 Washington Boulevard, Culver City, California, in December 1917. These records reflect that June Hovick made only one other short, the same year, "Hey There", also starring Harold Lloyd. Her next listed film would not be until 1942's, "Four Jacks and a Jill".

IF there were earlier filmed shorts, there are no records of them. Or over the years did the two-films become confused as two-years with all the lies Rose had the girls told?

When Louise turned seven, also in 1918, she joined her sister, on the vaudeville circuit, as part of the act of "Madame Rose Presents Dainty June and Her Newsboys Songsters". This was also the last year either sister received any schooling. 

Below, for years Louise's only production number in the show was a novelty number called "Hard Boiled Rose".

 




 

 


 

 

 

 

 


































 

Above, "Dainty June" on the left and Louise on the right, around 1925, with an unidentified manBelow a professional photo of the two girls the same year.




 

 

 















 Rose still insisted on calling Ellen "Dainty June" as this following 1927 newspaper ad indicates:















 






 EVERYTHING ISN'T COMING UP ROSES

A part of Stephen Sondheim's lyrics for the song the above title parodies in "Gypsy" are:

You'll be swell, you'll be great
Gonna have the whole world on a plate
Starting here, starting now
Honey everything's coming up roses

 Problem is "Roses", like any flower, will wilt!

According to Kathrine K.  Beck's, article "Lee, Gypsy Rose (Rose Louise Hovick) (1911-1970)" on the website "HistoryLink.org" at: https://www.historylink.org/File/5686

Not only had Rose taught her girls to lie about their ages to truant officers, but she also taught them to become proficient shop lifters. At the time Louise rejoined her sister, the troupe was making $1,500 a week (equivalent at the time of this writing to $28,560).

Vaudeville was dying, even over the countrywide "Orpheum Circuit" that June and Louise were appearing on. Motion pictures were no longer the short subjects of the past and began to be shown as a cheap means for the theater owners to bring in their paying audiences. 

On December 29, 1928, "Dainty June" saw a means of escaping her dominating mother. After the performance at the "Jayhawk Theatre", in Topeka, Kansas, she eloped with one of the newsboys, Bobby Reed (aka: Weldon Hyde). According to June Havoc, she was 13-years old and many biographer have picked it up as fact. The month and year are accurate, but her age cannot be IF she was born in 1912. Based upon that year, Ellen Hovick would have been 16-years of age, unless, once again, with the multiple birth years created by her mother, June Havoc has it correct, and her birth year now becomes 1915. 

Rose notified the Topeka Police and Bobby Reed was arrested. At the police station, Rose pulled out a concealed gun and attempted to shoot the boy, but the safety was still on. A police officer attempted to restrain her, but she broke fee and, according to the accounts, viciously beat up Bobby Reed. 

Shortly after this incident, Ellen and Tommy were married and became marathon dancers, their marriage didn't last, but the two stayed friends. Ellen Hovick now stayed away from her mother and changed her name to June Havoc.

According to Rose's biographer, Karen Abbott, in her 2010, "American Rose: A Nation Laid Bare: The Life and Times of Gypsy Rose Lee", there was at least one earlier incident with Rose and her temper. At some time traveling with the girls there was an "unidentified" hotel manager that Rose pushed through a window out to his death, she claimed self-defense and was never charged.

Without Ellen, Rose attempted to turn Louise into her sister, but ran into two problems. The immediate problem, as I've mentioned, Vaudeville was dying and where to perform? The second, Louise's lack of singing and dancing talent.

The act with the "Newsboy Songsters" was ended, and the newly created, all girl's
 act was "Madame Rose's Dancing Daughters".



 

The act was going nowhere, when Louise suggested that the girl's hair be dyed blonde, but not hers for effect. The girls now became "Rose Louise and Her Hollywood Blondes". Rose took the act to at local burlesque house that still used vaudeville acts, but unlike "Dainty June", Louise's girls did a slightly risqué routine. 























Now I come to another of those what year questions! I found that several biographers state Louise was 15-years old when she first stripped, that makes no sense, if her accepted birth year was 1911. Do the math and 11 plus 15 is 26, or 1926. There is no argument that Ellen "June" Hovick ran away with Bobby Reed on December 29, 1928, so how could Louise have first stripped two-years earlier?

"Rose Louise and Her Hollywood Blondes" were now living out of a tent, so her mother could save money. According to some sites, the group arrived at "The Missouri Theatre" in Kansas City, Kansas. Which was an old name for "The Folly Theatre", at 300 West 12th Street. The theatre had been built in 1902 and had several different name changes over the years.





 














 

Above, "The Folly" shortly after Louise first appeared there and below, "The Folly" today with a whole different street look.


 


"The Missouri" had been sitting closed and was purchased by "The Shubert Organization", founded by brothers "Sam", "Lee", and "Jacob", who were collectively known as "The Shuberts". They reopened the theatre as the "Shubert Missouri" for a short time, and then closed it again. In 1928, "The Shuberts" rented the theatre out to a burlesque troupe.

The real question is not when, in 
1929, Gypsy Rose Lee performed, but how it came about?

One version has the "Star Performer" of the burlesque troop getting sick and not being able to go on stage. "Madame Rose", not overlooking any opportunity, volunteered Louise to take her place. Louise goes on stage wearing not much more than a grass shirt and started to tease the audience by not really taking anything off and they loved it. 

This sounds more like the old plot of Victorian novels, stage melodramas and silent films. The star of the show isn't able to go on and the girl in the chorus line takes her place to become a star.

Another version, in what became the classic story line about how Louise first stripped. It is found in a February 14, 1937 article by Helen Welshimer, in the newspaper "The Laredo Times", entitled, "Burlesque strippers graduate to Broadway"

In this version, Louise's mother makes her go on stage to replace one of the scheduled strippers wearing a too large, ill-fitting dress. One of the straps comes off her shoulder, the dress falls down to her feet, and she's standing there almost totally naked. Louise immediately makes attempts to cover herself up, but without success, again, the audience loves it and Gypsy Rose Lee is born. It is this story line that was used, by Arthur Laurents for the 1959 musical "Gypsy: A Musical Fable".

According to an article "The Grand Old Lady of 12th Street: The Folly Theater", on the "Kansas City Public Library" website: https://kchistory.org/blog/grand-old-lady-12th-street-folly-theater

Shortly after, the Shuberts began to sublease the theater to a burlesque troupe. Gypsy Rose Lee, who would become one of the most well-known burlesque stars, made her burlesque debut there in 1929. The Shubert Missouri lasted until 1932, when it closed during the Depression.

Louise's stage name came from her habit of reading tea leaves for people like a "Gypsy". "Rose" came from her first name and "Lee", apparently was added on a whim. According to the now, "Gypsy Rose Lee", in this well quoted one sentence description of her new occupation from 1956's, "Gypsy: A Memoir":

I could be a star without any talent at all!

Gypsy Rose Lee became a major star of "Minsky's Burlesque", the crown jewel of striptease and remaining vaudeville acts, below on West 42nd Street, in New York City.



















Gypsy Rose Lee was billed at Minsky's as "The Intellectual Stripper", and according to the Spanish language website, https://glittergirlsburlesque.com/la-historia-del-burlesque/,

 Her striptease was almost casual without the jerky movements of other performers, with an emphasis on tease-playing, teasing. 

Due to her humorous and naive nature, she was one of the greatest performers at Minsky's Burlesque, where she performed for 4 years.




 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


 

 








During the "Great Depression" Gypsy Rose Lee was a union activist and spoke at many New York Union Labor Halls and other venues. According to author Harry Fisher, in his non-fiction work, that you would never expect her to be mentioned in, 1998's. "Comrades: Tales of a Brigadista in the Spanish Civil War", Lee's talks brought in the largest audiences. 

I return to "Mama Rose" and something the Sondheim, Styne, and Laurents 1959 musical "Gypsy: A Musical Fable" left out from her portrait.

At the end of the last act of the originally written musical by Arthur Laurents, there were revisions of this scene over the years in the revivals, Rose's influence over Louise has waned. The audience learns that Mama Rose was living her own dreams through her daughters and drove everyone away from her, but it's now:

"ROSE'S TURN", as Stephen Sondheim's lyrics tells the audience:

Ready or not, shhh, here comes Mama.
Mama's talkin' loud.
Mama's doin' fine.
Mama's gettin' hot.
Mama's goin' stong.
Mama's movin' on.
Mama's all alone.
Mama doesn't care.
Mama's lettin' loose.
Mama's got the stuff.
Mama's lettin' go.

 The song ends with:

This time, boys, I'm taking the bows and
everything's coming up Rose!
Everything's coming up roses!
Everything's coming up roses
this time for me!
For me! For me! For me! For me! For me!
For me! Yeah!

As Rose is joined by Louise on the empty stage, the audiences sees signs of a reconciliation, as the two walk off stage together and the curtain comes down after mother and daughter have exited. 

Once again this is a "Fable about the Mythic Rose" and reality was very much different.  


The following is from Katherine K. Beck's article for "HistoryLink.org" and introduces another character to this story. Who, I could not find no other mention of, or at least online, in any articles about either Mama Rose, including her publish obituary, and her parent's vital statistics. Which all indicate that Rose's mother only had one child, her, but I also didn't read all the books referenced by the authoress written by Louise's son Erick Lee Preminger, more on him later.

According to Rose’s sister Belle, a Seattle doctor who saw Rose on a visit home said she was “crazy” and “dangerously so.” She harassed and blackmailed both her daughters, demanding money and gifts, although she was well provided for, and turned up at their performances dressed shabbily and claiming to be ill and poor. They both communicated with her through lawyers.
In what year the above took place, I also could not determine, but the following adds credence to what Beck wrote.

There is some confusion depending upon whose biography, or biographical article you read. As to when and how Gypsy Rose Lee obtained two properties for Rose. The first property is described as either a 10-room apartment, or already a boarding house located on West End Avenue in Manhattan. Some biographies state Gypsy rented the property, while others write that Gypsy purchased the property. What most writers seem to agree too, is that Rose turned this property into a boarding house for lesbian tenants, and they  claimed Rose was a lesbian herself.   

The other property was a farm in Highland Mills, Orange County, New York. The disagreement is the same here, as some biographers say Rose owned the property, others that Gypsy rented it for her mother.

There was an incident on June 1, 1937 that, again, depending upon whose biography you're reading, could have happened at either property. On some sites, including the books by Erik Lee Preminger, there was a party happening at whichever property is mentioned. 

The following are the facts as presented to the Grand Jury:

Gypsy was visiting her mother at the boarding house and Genevieve H. Augustine, allegedly Rose's lover, unexpectedly arrived. Genevieve, also allegedly, made a pass at Gypsy, shades of Ellen and Bobby Reed took place, as in a rage, Rose shot Genevieve dead. Publicly Augustine's death was listed as a suicide, but her parents demanded an inquiry. However, the Grand Jury declined to indict Rose.



 

 












 


 

Above Genevieve H. Augustine.


Writer Laura Jacobs, in her March 2003 article for "Vanity Fair", entitled "Taking It All Off", confirmed that Gypsy Rose Lee's son, believed everything I mentioned above as presented to the Grand Jury. However, I would point out that the events I just described happened seven and a half years before he was born and he was partly working from his mother's story of the event.

Writer C. Quinn, in a 2013 book with the "University Press of Mississippi", entitled "Mama Rose's Turn: The True Story of America's Most Notorious Stage Mother", refutes that both Rose was a lesbian and Genevieve her lover. She points out that Genevieve H. Augustine had a record of multiple attempts to commit suicide and she obviously killed herself.

HOLLYWOOD AND THE NEW YORK STAGE

Two months after the shooting, or suicide of Genevieve H. Augustine, Gypsy Rose Lee found herself in her first motion picture.

The Broadway "Fable" leaves out Gypsy Rose Lee's movie career, such as it was, but this is a motion picture blog and let us take a look at her first motion picture appearance. The producers and the studio, "20th Century Fox", wanted her in the role in this musical comedy, because of her popularity, or notoriety across the country. However, they were afraid of how Joseph Breen and the "Hay's Censorship Office" might react to her name. So once more, Gypsy Rose Lee, became Louise Hovick!


YOU CAN'T HAVE EVERYTHING released April 3, 1937

 



On the above poster Louise Hovick in the role of "Lulu Riley" was billed fifth. 

 
















Above left to right are, Alice Faye as "Judith Poe Wells", Louise Hovick as "Lulu", and Don Ameche as "George Macrae".

The plot has "Judith Poe Wells", the Granddaughter of Edgar Allan Poe, believing because of that fact, she can be a great playwright. Her play is terrible, but musical writer, "George Macrae" has fallen in love with her and will get producer "Sam Gordon", played by Charles Winninger, to back it. However, "George's" jealous current girlfriend "Lulu" can ruin everything and attempts to do just that.

































Above, Gypsy Rose Lee with the  comedy team, "The Ritz Brothers", Al, Jimmy, and Harry, portraying themselves, and below with Don Ameche.
































According to Noralee Frankel, in her 2009, "Stripping Gypsy: the Life of Gypsy Rose Lee", for the "Oxford Press", on August 24, 1937,  at the "insistence" of "20th Century Fox". Gypsy Rose Lee married Arnold Robert "Bob" Mizzy, a business man and "Supplier of Dental Equipment", but apparently Frankel is just passing on the same information others have written down without explaining the why of the "insistence". The two would divorce on March 17, 1941, with Gypsy claiming cruelty on the part of her husband, but Frankel speculated, that there was a mutual agreement between the two for Lee to bring up false charges against Mizzy, so the divorce went through smoothly. 




























Above, Gypsy Rose Lee and Robert Mizzy., below Gypsy in 1937.































ALI BABA GOES TO TOWN released on October 29, 1937
































This was comic star Eddie Cantor's 12th motion picture; he had started in silent films in 1926.  Cantor was portraying a hobo named "Aloysius 'Al' Babson", who walks onto a set of a movie making an "Arabian Nights Movie", falls asleep, and dreams he's "Ali Baba". 

Louise Hovick
portrayed "Sultana", seen below with Cantor.
































Below, the evil "Sultana" in her tent. The plot was a parody of FDR's "New Deal" as "Ali Baba" helps the good "Sultan" played by Roland Young, bring FDR reforms to his country.

























































SALLY, IRENE AND MARY released on March 4, 1938


















































This was another Alice Faye starring vehicle and she played "Sally Day", but her co-star was the popular singer Tony Martin as "Tommy Randall". Martin had been seventh billed in "You Can't Have Everything", his 12th on-screen appearance since 1935.

The title role of "Irene Keene" went to sixth billed radio and movie comedian Joan Davis. While the role of "Mary Stevens" went to seventh billed Marjorie Weaver".






























Above the three manicurists who dream of being show business stars, buy an old ferry boat, and turn it  into a supper club with a stage show, left to right, Joan Davis, Alice Faye, and Marjorie Weaver. Louise Hovick portrayed "Joyce Taylor".

































Above is third billed comic Fred Allen as "Gabriel 'Gabby' Green" and Louise Hovick.






























Above left to right, Fred Allen, Alice Faye, Louise Hovick, Tony Martin, and Joan Davis.

The plot of this movie went back to a 1922 play and a 1925 silent film that starred Constance Bennett as "Sally" and Joan Crawford as "Irene". 



THE BATTLE OF BROADWAY released on April 22, 1938






The following two photos are all I could locate for this comedy film. The president of the "Bundy Steel Company" in Bundy, Pennsylvania sends his two troublesome employees to New York City to break up a love affair between his son and a gold digger. 

What makes this "20th Century Fox" minor comedy of interest to film buff is the cast. The two troublesome employees are Victor McLaglen as "Big Ben Wheeler", and Brian Donlevy as "Chester Webb". 


























Between McLaglen and Donlevy is forgotten Robert Kellard as "Jack Bundy".

The believed gold digger, "Marjorie Clark" is played by fifth billed Lynn Bari, I couldn't locate a photo of her

Portraying the girl both "Big Ben" and "Chester" are prepared to fight over, "Linda Lee" is Louise Hovick.






































MY LUCKY STAR released September 9, 1938






This was another vehicle for Olympic Skating Star turned actress, Sonja Henie, portraying department store sales woman "Kristina Nielsen", who of course skates, that is enrolled as a student in a university to be used to promote the department store for college students. 

At eighth billing was Louise Hovick as "Marcelle La Verne", who plans to reveal the hoax that "Kristina" is really a student. While the son of the owner of the department store, Cesar Romero as "George Cabot, Jr.", wants to payoff "Marcelle" to annul their engagement.

Below is the only photo of Louise Hovick in the film I could locate.



























Gypsy Rose Lee's acting was generally panned by the film credits, so after "My Luck Star", she returned to New York City. Where she purchased a townhouse on East 63rd Street, in Manhattan, with a private courtyard, twenty-six rooms and seven baths.

One might ask, what became of Ellen Hovick aka: "Baby June" aka: "Dainty June" aka: June Havoc?

In December 30, 1940 the Richard Rodgers and Lorenz Hart musical "Pal Joey" opened on Broadway at the "Ethel Barrymore Theatre", 243 West 47th Street, New York City. The three leads were Gene Kelly as "Joey", Vivienne Segal as "Vera", and June Havoc as "Gladys Bump", seen below with Kelly.







































































Below, June Havoc's dancing partner, from the male chorus members, is Van Johnson.





































The show closed after 374 performances, both Havoc and Johnson received Hollywood film contracts and left Broadway. June would start a successful motion picture and television career, with 1942's "Four Jacks and a Jill", that lasted until 1989.



 





























There is a reference in the original version of "Pal Joey", by the character of the reporter, "Melba Snyder", played by Elaine Stritch, below, to an interview she did with Gypsy Rose Lee. Later the character does the song "Zip", which is a spoof on Gypsy Rose Lee's style of "Intellectual Reciting" while doing her striptease. Over the years and in the 1957 Frank Sinatra motion picture, the character was dropped and the song moved to the leading character of "Vera Prentiss-Simpson".
































In 1941 Gypsy Rose Lee's first mystery novel, "The G-String Murders", was published and, later, on May 1, 1943, actress Barbara Stanwyck played burlesque stripper "Dixie Daisy" in the watered downed screenplay by James Gunn. The picture had the right director in William "Wild Bill" Wellman, but both men and star were up against Joseph Breen, head of the "Production Code Administration", the motion picture industries own censorsBreen was on record of saying of the story:
We are concerned about the prominent use of the object known as the 'G-String' as the murder weapon. It is our impression that the use of this extremely intimate female garment will be considered offensive . . . 
The title of the movie was changed to "Lady of Burlesque", but the "G-String" stayed! Below, is the cover for the reissue of the original novel in conjunction with the motion picture.

































1942 was a interesting year for Gypsy Rose Lee, she published her second novel, "Mother Finds A Body". 







































The novel had some interestingly worded tag lines upon its release:

"One of the greatest mysteries ever written." ―The Philadelphia Daily News
"Pure ozone to those tired of ordinary oxygen." The New Yorker
"Our most famous burlesque queen may raise the temperature with a strip tease, but she chills the blood when she goes into her detective routine." ―The Boston Post

According to one reviewer:
the book starts out on what was supposed to be a quiet honeymoon getaway for celebrated stripper Gypsy Rose Lee and Biff Brannigan, ex-comic and ex-Casanova of the Burly Q circuit, settled as they are in a cozy trailer built for two. If you don’t count Gypsy’s overbearing mother, a monkey act, and Gee Gee, a.k.a. the Platinum Panic. Not to mention the best man found shot to death in the bathtub. 

 


Gypsy Rose Lee married early talking pictures and legitimate stage actor, Alexander Kirkland, in 1942, but they separated three months later and in December 1944 divorced.

On December 11,1944 Gypsy Rose Lee gave birth to a son, Erik Lee Kirkland. It wouldn't be until 1960, before Erik learned the truth of his birth and met his real father, producer, director, actor, Otto Preminger, below, whom his mother had an affair with.

















Below, Erik and his mother.

















Back on June 24, 1942, a musical revue starring comedian, minstrel, vaudevillian, stage and film actor Bobby Clark, entitled "Star and Garter", opened at Broadway's "Music Box Theatre", 239 West 45th Street (George Abbott Way). The show was produced by Mike Todd, below, who later would invent the motion picture process Todd-AO, and become Elizabeth Taylor's third husband. One of the members of the show was Gypsy Rose Lee.




















The program page below, shows Gypsy Rose Lee in "#4. THAT MERRY WIFE OF WINDSOR".





Above, Bobby Clark, in his trademarked painted on glasses, with Gypsy Rose Lee. 

During the shows 609 performances, Gypsy Rose Lee and Mike Todd had an affair.


RETURNING TO MOTION PICTURES AND THE END OF THIS STORY


STAGE DOOR CANTEEN released on June 24, 1943



The picture was both a Second World War morale booster for the "Home Front" and when able to be seen, "The Boys Overseas". The actual "Stage Door Canteen", was located in the basement of the "44th Street Theatre" in the unoccupied "Little Club", located at 216 West 44th Street, Manhattan, New York.

The movie was made under the guidance of the "American Theatre Wing" aka: "The Wing". That started during the First World War as the "Stage Women's War Relief" 

According to "Life Magazine", 82 performers appeared in the two-hour-and-twelve-minute motion picture. They included Ray Bolger, Ethel Merman, Katharine Hepburn, Helen Hayes and Edgar Bergan and Charlie McCarthy. The life magazine article actually gave the total seconds these stars appeared in the movie for.

I'm interested in the 331 seconds performed by Gypsy Rose Lee, with billing as Gypsy Rose Lee. In the film she performed a very short and clean version of her striptease.

































The following link, at the time of this writing, will take my reader to Gypsy Rose Lee's clean version of her striptease act from the movie.

https://video.search.yahoo.com/search/video;_ylt=Awr9ImfeGXViRZEAL8tXNyoA;_ylu=Y29sbwNncTEEcG9zAzEEdnRpZANMT0NVSTAzN18xBHNlYwNzYw--?p=1943+movie+stage+door+canteen&fr=mcafee#id=26&vid=0f1efd317b8a7110aa3703557aae0b46&action=view



BELLE OF THE YUKON released on December 27, 1944





Set during the Canadian Gold Rush of 1896 through 1899, "Belle of the Yukon" is a musical comedy tale of a reformed con-artist, "Honest John Calhoun", played by Randolph Scott, whose girlfriend, "Belle De Valle", played by Gypsy Rose Lee, attempts to keep "John" reformed. The secondary story line has "Lettie Candless", played by Dinah Shore, in love with the piano player at "Belle's" saloon, "Steve Atterbury", played by William Marshall. 

Things get crazy as "Honest John" plots a gold robbery and "Lettie's" father, "Pop Candless", played by Charles Winninger, thinks "Steve" is married with children.

This double Academy Award, song and music, nominee is actually a lot of fun.













































































On March 26, 1949 there was an early television quiz show called "Think Fast" on the "American Broadcasting Company (ABC)" network. In 1950 the original moderator, the future President of Rutgers University, Mason Welch Gross, left the show and was replaced by Gypsy Rose Lee. She would moderate what was described as an "adult version of the old children's game 'King of the Hill", by John Crosby in a November 13, 1949 edition of the "Pittsburgh-Star Gazette" newspaper.

On March 16, 1950, on the "Columbia Broadcasting System (CBS)" television show "What's My Line", the panelists had to guess Gypsy Rose Lee's profession. There are no videos or photos from this program. However, the attached link will take my reader to the May 31, 1959 episode of "What My Line" and the "Mystery Guest" - Gypsy Rose Lee.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vOMyTMeeJZc


BABES IN BAGDAD released on December 7, 1952




This is a woman's rights comedy set in an Arabian Harem. The "Caliph Hassan", played by John Boles, has a Harem with twelve beautiful wives. Enter, "Kyra", played by Paulette Goddard, who doesn't accept her new role in the Harem, goes on strike, and organizes the other women. In the end, "Kyra" becomes married to "Hassan's" godson, "Ezar", played by Richard Ney, and "Hassan" finds happiness with his favorite wife, "Zohara", played by Gypsy Rose Lee.




















Above, Paulette Goddard and Richard Ney, below left to right, according to IMDb are, Paulette Goddard, Gypsy Rose Lee, and Natalie Benech as "Zelka".


































Above according to IMDb are, Richard Ney, Gypsy Rose Lee, and Natalie Benech, but some sites identify the actress to the right of Gypsy Rose Lee as Paulette Goddard. There are several stills from this film, including the one above this still, that depending on the site switch between the two names.


MUCHACHAS DE BAGDAD released March 16, 1953 in Spain





Gypsy Rose Lee's ninth and the final film I will mention, is the Spanish languish version with a Spanish cast of "Babes in Bagdad". Both films were made at the Orphea Film Studos, Barcelona, Spain, and Gypsy Rose Lee, Paulette Goddard, John Boles, and Ricard Ney are the only actors from the English language version that repeat their roles. 

The entire production crew was Spanish, while the main production crew on the other version were Americans. 





























Above, Gypsy Rose Lee as "Zohara" in Spanish version, below Paulette Goddard.


















Around January 14, 1954, Rose Thompson Hovick suffered a stroke! 
Two-weeks later, on JANUARY 28, 1954, she passed away from colorectal cancer.

Another song in "Gypsy" is sung by "Rose" to "Herbie", but the lyrics also reflect Louise and Ellen's feelings about their mother also:

You'll never get away from me.
You can climb the tallest tree.
I'll be there somehow.

According to Katherine K. Beck's article I linked above:

Madam Rose died in 1954. Her last words threatened her daughter Louise, promising to drag her daughter into death with her. 




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