For the last two days we’ve discussed stripper Gypsy Rose Lee, who never had much of a film career, but who nevertheless is legendary.
Gypsy dabbled in all forms of show business and even wrote a successful mystery novel, The G String Murders. Published in the early 1940’s the book was a huge success.
It transformed (Lee) from America’s most successful stripper into the darling of New York’s literary set, wrote Erik Lee Preminger, (Gypsy’s son by Otto Preminger) in his 1984 memoir, Gypsy & Me.
She was invited to all the right parties and began giving some herself. Regular visitors to her cold-water flat on East 57th Street included writers such as Carson McCullers, Janet Flanner, Carl Van Doren, Christopher Isherwood and the artists Max Ernst, Pavel Tchelitchew, Marcel Vertes. (A second Gypsy novel, Mother Finds A Body, was a bomb commercially.)
The G-String Murders was made into a film starring Barbara Stanwyck (pictured above), and while it would be stretching it to call it a classic film, it sure is a damn good old movie. It features some of the best character actors of all time including Iris Adrian, Marion Martin and Gloria Dickson. Burlesque comic Pinky Lee and Michael O’Shea also appear.
And Stanwyck does perform smoothly in several musical numbers in the 1943 movie directed by William Wellman, including a snappy jitterbug with Lee.
And if you want to see Gypsy herself, doing essentially what she did on stage for many years, get a copy of 1943’s star-laden Stage Door Canteen. In it she recreates her burlesque act, BUT with tons of clothes ON.