I have always loved the musical “Gypsy Rose Lee”, as this is the real life Gypsy Rose Lee’s Birthday. She was born Rose Louise Hovick on January 9, 1911 to Rose Hovick (née Rose Evangeline Thompson) and Norwegian-American John Olaf Hovick. She also had a younger sister, Ellen Evangeline, better known as June Havoc on the vaudeville circuit.
It was a hard life for Gypsy Rose Lee, or Louise as she was called, and she was always playing a secondary role to her sister June. It was their mother, and the girls, and the boys they hired as backup singers. The girls eventually outgrew the act but Rose insisted because it was such a hit, than June ran off with one of the backup singers. Then it was just Louise and her mother. They were always scrounging for money. Times were hard. Louise was able to sew so she created the costumes and mended them as needed. Then her mother got her a booking at Minsky’s Burlesque. Louise knew they needed the money, but this theater known for its strippers. Louise got into one of her fancy outfits and hopped on stage. She was very nervous, for one, because she had never stripped before, but she talked to the girls backstage and they told her all about their routines. The rest is history.
Gypsy Rose Lee worked as an actress, and was able to fulfill other passions in writing. She performed in movies. She wrote three books, The G-String Murders, (which was made into a film shortly thereafter titled Lady of Burlesque); Mother Finds a Body and Gypsy: A Memoir. She also wrote a play entitled The Naked Genius.
Lee married three times; she even had a son, Erik Lee Preminger, and son of film director Otto Preminger. She was a political activist. She loved art and received art as gifts from many of her admirers.
The road in which she traveled, it would have appeared as if stripping was what she was suppose to do. If she hadn’t tried, she would have never have gotten to try and succeed at all the other things she did. She only really did because her family needed the money to survive. Now I am not saying that you should go and start stripping because that is where Gypsy Rose ended up, because you still have to remember, then came there thinking that they were going to perform vaudeville.
Here is Gypsy Rose Lee performing one of her routines edited of course.