I had vaguely heard the term B-girl mentioned in the past. Whether it was from some early film noir cinema or pulp fiction I cannot recall. The 1940 Pulitzer Prize winning William Saroyan play The Time of Your Life was made into a film in 1948 and was recently shown on Turner Classic Movies and I watched it for the odd turn of tough guy Jimmy Cagney playing a philosophical bar patron. It is an uneven movie, but what was interesting was Jeanne Cagney’s (yes – Jimmy’s sister) portrayal of Kitty Duval and the referral of her character as possibly being a B-girl.
So what exactly is a B-Girl?
First thought – Hays code vernacular for a bar prostitute.
Looking the term up in Merriam Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary it is slang for a ‘bar girl’ - a woman who entertains bar patrons and encourages them to spend freely. Online other meanings emerged – it could also mean a prostitute that hangs around in bars. Either way it was not a compliment.