Classic Hollywood #32 – Busby Berkeley & Joe E. Brown

Busby Berkeley and Joe E. Brown Check Out A Stripper – 1935

(l-r) Busby Berkeley Esther Burke Joe E Brown

(l-r) Busby Berkeley, Esther Burke, Joe E Brown

Stripper may not be the word for what Esther Burke did. But in the 1930’s it was close to it.

The women in the background are portraying burlesque performers and were part of the chorus of the 1935 Busby Berkeley comedy Bright Lights starring Joe E. Brown, Ann Dvorak, Patricia Ellis and William Demarest.

The caption to the publicity photo reads:

Esther Burke, burlesque queen is all ready to contribute her talents to the opening chapters of “Broadway Joe”, Joe E. Brown’s latest starring vehicle for Warner Bros., with Joe playing a comic with a burlesque troupe. (credit: International News Photo June 8, 1935)

Esther Burke was uncredited in the film, yet was featured singing a song, Powder My Back. Very little information could be found on her, except that she was indeed a burlesque performer during the 1920’s and 1930’s.

Director Busby Berkeley created some of the great images of the silver screen with overhead shots of intricate dance numbers featuring chorus girls.

Joe E. Brown is immortal for saying one of the greatest closing lines in movie history in Billy Wilder’s, Some Like It Hot (1959).

Warning: spoiler to follow if you have never seen the movie –

Jack Lemmon, who plays Daphne, a man masquerading as a woman, informs Brown’s character millionaire Osgood Fielding III, several reasons why they cannot marry, Brown is unperturbed.

Exasperated, Lemmon finally confesses he is a man to which Brown responds “Well, nobody’s perfect.”

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Anti-Spam Quiz:

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.