Classic Hollywood #96 – An Interview With Her Sexcellency, Sally Rand

The Lady With The Fans, Her Sexcellency Sally Rand

Sally Rand c 1928

Sally Rand bubble dance  photo by Ziegfeld Follies glamorist Alfred Cheney Johnston

Sally Rand photo Daily NewsEarlier in 2020, History Channel’s American Pickers featured a show about buying Sally Rand’s personal memorabilia. Most viewers were probably perplexed as to why host Danielle Colby was so excited. In terms of forgotten superstars, Sally Rand, (born Hattie Helen Gould Beck, 1904-1979) would rank pretty high today. Not so for Ms. Colby who understands and admires the artistry that Sally Rand created.

Bolero Sally Rand Gorge Raft 1934Twenty five of Sally’s thirty films were silent pictures. Sally Rand’s final movie was made in 1938, The Sunset Murder Case. And yet, lacking movie popularity, during the 1930s and 1940s Sally Rand was one of the best known performers in show business.

Two Fans and A Bubble

Movies were not her bread and butter. Sally’s main work was in front of a live audience while frequently wearing nothing but shoes. Often she appeared in a “nude suit” which outlined every curve on her 35-22-35 figure. Sally Rand in Bolero 1934 photo ParamountSally’s famed fan dance was featured at the 1933 Chicago World’s Fair. She manipulated giant feather fans in front of her seemingly unclad body in such a way to create a peek-a-boo effect that wowed audiences. For the 1934 version of the Fair, the bubble dance she created was a display of grace and beauty.

Sally continued performing for over 45 years keeping her diminutive five foot figure in great shape. Over the decades, Sally was frequently arrested for violating local obscenity laws in an act that today would be considered very tame. Many times she was arrested even though she was not nude behind her fans.

Los Angeles – Sally Rand, fan and bubble dancer chats with reporter at Lincoln Heights jail following her arrest on a charge of violating the municipal code by appearing in an indecent show. “It costs me a lot of money to prove that what I do is art,” commented the 42-year-old Sally. AP wirephoto, December 3, 1946

TOO FEW FANS -Sally Rand 61-yer-old fan dancer was booked by Omaha, Neb. police after a patrolman said her act went “beyond the bonds of propriety.” Miss Rand who rose to fame during Chicago’s World Fair of 1933-34 , will continue in her nightclub act, although the patrolman said she removed two feather fans that shielded her unclad figure. Omaha police said she may be arrested again. AP Photo June 28, 1965

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Here is a rare 1966 radio interview of Sally Rand talking with Whatever Became Of…? author and radio host Richard Lamparski. Listen to Rand’s inflections and speech patterns. Does anyone speak like this anymore? Sally resonates intelligence and class.

This silent film footage is from the Streets of Paris exhibit at the 1933 Chicago World’s Fair. It does appear Sally is not wearing any clothing at the end of the film.

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