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Howe, Helen (11 January 1905–01 February 1975), writer and monologuist, was born in Boston, Massachusetts, the daughter of Mark Antony DeWolfe Howe, a writer, and Fanny Huntington Quincy, also a writer. Though the children did not want to listen, their father tried to read poetry to them on Sunday afternoons. Helen and her brothers preferred the times he sat at the piano to lead them in hymn sings. The family also participated together in tennis, sailing, swimming, and clambakes. Howe was so attached to her parents that, when they sent her to a boarding school only twelve miles away, she became homesick and stayed in bed three days. She graduated from Milton Academy in 1922, after which she attended Radcliffe College for one year only (1923–1924). At Radcliffe, she acted in college plays and decided to work and study toward becoming an actress. Her favorite authors were Jane Austen, Charles Dickens, ...

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Gypsy Rose Lee Photograph by Fred Palumbo, 1956. Courtesy of the Library of Congress (LC-USZ62-112035).

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Lee, Gypsy Rose (09 January 1914–26 April 1970), striptease artist, burlesque entertainer, and writer, was born Rose Louise Hovick in Seattle, Washington, the daughter of John Olaf Hovick, a newspaper reporter, and Rose Thompson. Lee’s parents divorced when she was about four years old. She and her sister June (who later became screen actress June Havoc) lived with their mother’s father in Seattle, where Rose Hovick, a prototypical stage mother, drove the girls into a show business career. They began by performing at several lodges to which their grandfather belonged. Lee described herself as a child as being “big for my age and more than just chubby” with the nickname of “Plug.” Lee once described her childhood to a reporter: “At that time I wanted to die—just for the vacation.”...