Sally Rand

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Burlesque, the ostrich-feather dance, Chicago World’s Fair



Sally Rand, who would eventually immortalize a certain kind of scandalous showbiz, entered the world quite modestly in 1904 as Hattie Helen Gould Beck from Hickory County, Missouri.  Rand became famous for her risqué burlesque numbers, including her iconic fan dance with ostrich feathers, which alternately shocked and titillated audiences nationwide.  She got her start in the nightclubs of Kansas City as a teenager, winning favor of crowds and critics for her precocious talent.  Rand catapulted to superstardom—and controversy—thanks to her leggy displays at events like the 1933 Chicago World’s Fair.  Rand was arrested multiple times at this and other performances for her apparent indecent exposure, though she was always covered by strategic bodypaint.  She danced well into old age, appearing in burlesque retrospectives for decades until her death at the age of 75.