Here’s A Look At The Real Gypsy Rose Lee

An icon of burlesque, she was one of the world’s most famous strippers. Which you may know because of the movie starring Bette Midler.

Gypsy Rose Lee (known also as Louise) was a stripper and burlesque dancer who found fame in the 1940s. She initially started in the vaudeville circuit at a very young age with her sister, June, who was thought to be the star of the show. When June left the act at 15 to get married, Gypsy, having few other options, entered the world of burlesque. She eventually became renowned for her sexy yet clever act. Gypsy’s life has been made into a move twice, once in 1962, starring Natalie Wood. And again in 1993 with Bette Midler as Louise’s mother, and Cynthia Gibb as Louise.

2. Here in 1924, Gypsy Rose Lee is only 10-years-old. (What?! I Know.)

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3. Here’s Gypsy (or Louise, as she was known before fame) with her sister June, in 1925. June would leave their act at 15 to elope.

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4. A photo session for Gypsy’s debut film, You Can’t Have Everything (1937). She’d go on to perform in 12 more films, but her acting…well, wasn’t the greatest.

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5. In 1941, GRL works on her novel, The G-String Murders, published by Simon & Schuster.

Eliot Elisofon/Time Life Pictures / Getty Images

6. Tips in 1941.

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7. A 1944 portrait.

Bruno of Hollywood/Archive Photos / Getty Images)

8. 1949: Gypsy, at right, fits another dancer with a costume of her own design. She’s adding another layer of lace to avoid censorship.

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9. Here in 1949, Gypsy was the star of her own striptease show. She was known for her on-stage humor as well as beauty.

George Skadding//Time Life Pictures / Getty Images

10. Another 1949 image: GRL (at right) wears a 97-lb. costume. In her act, she shed it piece-by-piece.

George Skadding//Time Life Pictures / Getty Images

11. Posing in front of her own portrait for a 1949 carnival tour.

George Skadding//Time Life Pictures / Getty Images

12. Gypsy in 1951.

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