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Cline, Maggie (01 January 1857–11 June 1934), entertainer, was born Margaret Cline in Haverhill, Massachusetts, the daughter of Patrick B. Cline and Ann Degman. Educated in Haverhill’s public schools, Maggie worked in a show factory before running away from home with a traveling theatrical company at the age of fifteen....

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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.”...

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St. Cyr, Lili (03 June 1918–29 January 1999), striptease dancer, was born Marie Frances (sometimes reported by her as Willis Marie) Van Schaack in Minneapolis, Minnesota, the daughter of Edward Van Schaack, who was drafted into military service almost immediately after his daughter’s birth and remained absent from most of her life, and Idella Marian Peeso, whose mother, Alice, and stepfather, Ben Klarquist, a carpenter, raised Marie and her two sisters. The family moved to Pasadena, California, when she was seven years old, and she attended school there until dropping out after finishing the ninth grade. She worked as a waitress in Hollywood in her teens and became a chorus girl at the Florentine Gardens there at about the age of seventeen. That year she married Dick Hubert, the headwaiter at the restaurant, but the marriage ended within months. She was to marry five more times, in 1936, 1946, 1950, 1955, and 1959. All her marriages ended in divorce within a few years, and none produced children....

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Thompson, Lydia (19 February 1836–17 November 1908), entertainer and leader of a British burlesque troupe, was born in London, England, the daughter of a Quaker father, Philip Milburn Thompson, who died when she was three. Her mother, whose name is unknown, remarried a well-to-do businessman who financed Lydia’s dancing lessons when she was a young child....