Biography and History

Gypsy Rose Lee, born Rose Louise Hovick in Seattle, Wash., was an American actress and burlesque entertainer. She appeared in vaudeville acts with her sister June beginning in 1919, and made her debut in a burlesque show in 1929, taking the name Gypsy Rose Lee. She became the headliner at Billy Minsky's Republic Theatre on Broadway in 1931, and appeared in the Ziegfeld Follies in 1936. Lee eventually traveled to Hollywood, where she was billed as Louise Hovick. She returned to New York City and fell in love with Michael Todd (1909-1958), and later appeared as an actress in many of his film productions. In 1941, Lee wrote or co-wrote a mystery thriller called The G-String Murders, in which she herself played detective; it was made into the 1943 film Lady of Burlesque, starring Barbara Stanwyck. She published another mystery novel, Mother Finds a Body, in 1942. Her best-selling memoirs, ns2:titled Gypsy, were published in 1957, and were taken as inspirational material for the Jule Styne, Stephen Sondheim, and Arthur Laurents musical Gypsy: A Musical Fable. Lee went on to host a television talk show, Gypsy (1958).

A smoker, Gypsy Rose Lee was diagnosed in 1969 with lung cancer and died in Los Angeles, California, at the age of 59. She was noted for her grace, style, and sophisticated wit.

Source: From the finding aid for C1107

  • Gypsy Rose Lee Collection. 1941.

    Call Number: C1107

    Consists of the original typescript, and related letters, of the crime novel The G-String Murders by Gypsy Rose Lee, the American burlesque entertainer and film star.