Synopses & Reviews
Whenever stripper Gypsy Rose Lee encountered public criticism, she spoke frankly in her own defense. "Thousands have seen me at my--ah--best; and thousands have made no objections."
Noralee Frankel's lively biography, Stripping Gypsy, the first ever published about the highly mythologized Gypsy, examines the struggles Lee faced in making a lucrative and unconventional career for herself while maintaining a sense of dignity and social value. Frankel shows that the famous Miss Lee was an enigma, clearly struggling with her choices and her desire to be respected and legitimized. Those who know Gypsy Rose Lee only from the musical and film based on her rise to stardom will be surprised by what they uncover in Stripping Gypsy. In all ways, Lee trafficked in the incongruous: she was at once sex object, intellectual, and activist. In addition to her highly successful strip-tease act and film career, she published two mystery novels and a memoir, wrote two plays, and showed her original artwork in famed Modern Art-impresario Peggy Guggenheim's gallery. Lee also gained notoriety for her participation in liberal politics. As photographer Arnold Newman said, "She was a lady, a brilliant, bright woman who was the friend of many writers and intellectuals." Though she wasn't above using her femininity to full advantage, Lee aspired to much more than admiration for her physical beauty.
Frankel places Lee's life in social and political context while detailing a fascinating entertainment career, in which Lee created and recreated her own identity to fit changing times. Frankel's biography transcends the sensationalism of stripping and asks the public to see the woman beneath the costume, a woman who always kept a little of herself shrouded in mystery.
"It is simply impossible to read [this] book and not fall in love with Gypsy's tenacity, wit and confounding, beguiling, oh-so-American mix of self-mythology and self-awareness." -- Washington Post
"The first truly scholarly biography of Gypsy Rose Lee. And in the same way that much of today's neo-burlesque phenomenon is fueled by feminist underpinnings, so too does Frankel, in this exhaustively researched work, reveal the forward-thinking politics of this burlesque pioneer." -- Bust Magazine
"Frankel has done a commendable job sorting through the myths, embellishments, and falsehoods that Lee and the show-business publicity mill spread throughout the years. Her book reveals Lee's significance to the history of popular culture...She does an excellent job of situating Lee within the culture of show business in the 1930s and 1940s." -- Reviews in American History
"Her story is a fascinating one and also follows the culture of the time."--Graffiti
"[T]he fine study of famed stripper Gypsy Rose Lee written by Noralee Frankel.... Frankel paints a complex portrait of a woman who was a stripper, writer, actress, talk show host, and patron of the arts; all the while raising important questions regarding gender and class in twentieth-century America.... Noralee Frankel has crafted a fine scholarly entertainment biography which should serve as a model for historians. Stripping Gypsy removes the hyperbole surrounding the renowned stripper and unveils the struggles of this intelligent and ambitious woman to push the boundaries of gender and class in twentieth-century America."--Ron Briley, History News Network
"BUST readers who are fans or practitioners of neo-burlesque will be thrilled to discover that historian Noralee Frankel has created the first truly scholarly biography of Gypsy Rose Lee. And in the same way that much of today's neoburlesque phenomenon is fueled by feminist underpinnings, so too does Frankel, in this exhaustively researched work, reveal the forward-thinking politics of this burlesque pioneer."--Bust Magazine
"Frankel's well-researched 'Stripping Gypsy.' ... you find yourself turning pages quickly and yelling out factoids to beleaguered friends and family in the other room.... It is simply impossible to read these books and not fall in love with Gypsy's tenacity, wit and confounding, beguiling, oh-so-American mix of self-mythology and self-awareness."--Washington Post
"Frankel...presents a Gypsy you might not recognize from the glossy stage and screen bios of her life: here, she is conflicted, even tormented, by her choices and life paths. A new panning of some familiar material, perfect for a poolside lounge chair."--AARP Bulletin
"Frankel's biography [is] a good starting point for those wishing to learn more about Gypsy Rose Lee, largely owing to its start-to-finish overview of her life."--Yahoo! Shine
"[H]er meticulously researched book.... Stripping Gypsy is an intriguing and uncomplicated read, telling Gypsy Rose Lee's story from childhood to death.... It certainly sheds some light on a woman who spent so much time protecting her image and the reality of herself."--Sacramento Book Review
"[Stripping Gypsy is] impressive in its research.... Frankel's is valuable for its rich lode of period detail."--Open Letters
"While Noralee Frankel's lively biography of America's most famous stripper is thoroughly researched and cleverly written, Frankel's greatest accomplishments lie in disentangling fact from fiction in the life and work of a woman who survived by masking the truth from herself, her audience, and those she loved."--Leslie Fishbein, Journal of American History
Hailed as an "endlessly fascinating biography of an extraordinary woman" (Daily Express) and "a page turner" (Independent), Noralee Frankel's lively biography illuminates the fascinating career of Gypsy Rose Lee, a woman who created and recreated her own identity to fit changing times. Placing the famed stripper's life in a refreshing new light, Frankel reveals that though Lee was not above using her femininity to full advantage, she aspired to much more than admiration for her physical beauty. Indeed, those who know Lee only from the beloved musical and film Gypsy!--which celebrates her unconventional rise to stardom--will be surprised to discover a woman who was not only a sex object, but also a best-selling writer, artist, political activist, and union leader. In addition to her highly successful strip-tease act and film career, Lee published two popular mystery novels and a memoir, wrote two plays, showed her original artwork in famed Modern Art-impresario Peggy Guggenheim's gallery, and gained notoriety for her participation in liberal politics.
About the Author
is the Assistant Director, Women, Minorities, and Teaching at the American Historical Association. She lives near Washington, D.C.
Table of Contents
Preface: Stripping Gypsy
1. Getting Started
2. The Burlesque Stage
3. Sophisticated Stripper
4. Follies with Girlfriends
5. To Hell With Louise Hovick
6. Failure as a Dutiful Wife
7. Death, Dies, and Mother
8. Finding the Body
9. Cultured Stripper
10. World Fair's Stripper
11. The Naked Genius
12. Stripping for Labor and the War Effort
14. On the Carnival Circuit
15. Nothing to Conceal
16. Strip Around the World
17. Back Home
18. Immortality in Book and Song
19. The Most Famous Former Stripper in the World
20. Aging Gracefully in Public