The “B” Girl

The “B” Girl.  A Saying You Won’t Hear Today

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?

1948 Production Still

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.

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4 thoughts on “The “B” Girl

  1. David Long

    I always felt a b girl was the same grade as a b movie… low grade, trashy, not too well received in sophisticated circles. Naughty girls, rough edges types…Faye Emerson, Mary Beth Hughes, Janis Paige, etc. Yet these , and others, despite their notoriety , turned out likeable just the same.


  2. Brenda

    My mother finally gave it up and told my daughter that she was a B-girl in the late 40’s. I knew she had worked in a bar for a while after she took a Greyhound from a small town in Indiana to Los Angeles (with dreams of being a “Star”). She also told me that she met my dad when she was a waitress in a cafe in the hotel where he lived as he attended USC. Now I wonder about that. Either way, I’m sure she was good at what she did and was not a prostitute, though she may have been a bit promiscuous. She had a wonderful sense of humor and rarely said a cross word. She would have been 100 years old this year and was the most loving mother anyone could have asked for.


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