She would appear in more than thirty films and be named after a Road Atlas by Cecil B Demille. A football play would be named after her. She would appear on To Tell the Truth. She would be arrested six times in one day for indecency. She would be immortalized in the final scene of The Right Stuff, cartoons, popular culture, and live on as the iconic symbol of the Chicago World’s Fair of 1933. She would pave the way for every sex symbol to follow from Marilyn Monroe to Lady Gaga. She would die penniless and in debt. In the end, Sammy Davis Jr. would write her a $10,000 check when she had nothing left. Her name was Sally Rand. You can draw a line from her to Lana Turner, Marilyn Monroe, Raquel Welch, Ann Margret, Madonna, and Lady Gaga. She broke the mold in 1933, by proclaiming the female body as something beautiful and taking it out of the strip club with her ethereal fan dance. She was a poor girl from the Ozarks who ran away with a carnival, then joined the circus, and finally made it to Hollywood where Cecil B Demille set her on the road to fame with silent movies. When the talkies came her career collapsed, and she ended up in Chicago, broke, sleeping in alleys. Two ostrich feathers in a second-hand store rescued her from obscurity.
William Elliott Hazelgrove has a Masters in History and is the best-selling author of ten novels and five narrative nonfiction books: Madame President: The Secret Presidency of Edith Wilson, Forging a President: How the West Created Teddy Roosevelt (Regnery Publishing), Al Capone and the 1933 World’s Fair (Rowman and Littlefield). He lives in Chicago, Illinois.