The One & Only Gypsy Rose Lee

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Andrew and I had the pleasure of meeting Erik Preminger one day on the New York subway. Erik Preminger is the son of Gypsy Rose Lee and the director Otto Preminger. Somehow he heard us talking about his mother and spoke up. He told us she was just like the book said. He told us how they would live in a trailer when they were on the road. It is one of my most favorite memories. I hope you enjoy my little tribute film to the one and only Gypsy Rose Lee.

Bruce Baumwoll


Gypsy Rose Lee (born Rose Louise Hovick, January 8, 1911 – April 26, 1970) was an American burlesque entertainer, stripper, and vedette famous for her striptease act. Also an actress, author, and playwright, her 1957 memoir was adapted into the 1959 stage musical Gypsy. Her innovations were an almost casual stripping style compared to bump & grind styles of most burlesque strippers (she emphasized the “tease” in “striptease”), and she brought a sharp sense of humor into her act as well. She became as famous for her onstage wit as for her stripping style, and—changing her stage name to Gypsy Rose Lee—she became one of the biggest stars of Minsky’s Burlesque, where she performed for four years. She was frequently arrested in raids on the Minsky brothers’ shows. During the Great Depression, Lee spoke at various union meetings in support of New York laborers. According to activist Harry Fisher, her talks were among those that attracted the largest audiences.[12] In 1937 and 1938, billed as Louise Hovick, she made five films in Hollywood.[13] But her acting was generally panned, so she returned to New York City where she had an affair with film producer Michael Todd and co-produced and appeared in his 1942 musical revue, Star and Garter.[14] Lee viewed herself as a “high-class” stripper, and she approved of H. L. Mencken’s term “ecdysiast”, which he coined as a more “dignified” way of referring to the profession. Her style of intellectual recitation while stripping was spoofed in the number “Zip!” in Rodgers and Hart’s Pal Joey, a musical in which June Havoc had appeared on Broadway, opposite Gene Kelly. Lee performed an abbreviated version of her act (intellectual recitation and all) in the 1943 film Stage Door Canteen. After the death of their mother, the sisters now felt free to write about her without risking a lawsuit. Gypsy: A Memoir was published in 1957 and served as inspiration for the Jule Styne, Stephen Sondheim, and Arthur Laurents 1959 musical Gypsy. Havoc did not like the way she was portrayed in the piece, but she was eventually persuaded not to oppose it for her sister’s sake.[25] The show and the 1962 movie adaptation assured Gypsy a steady income. The sisters became estranged for a period of time but reconciled. June, in turn, wrote Early Havoc and More Havoc, to relate her version of the story. Gypsy Rose Lee went on to host a daytime San Francisco KGO-TV television talk show, The Gypsy Rose Lee Show (754 episodes, aired 1965–1968). The popular afternoon show featured such guests as Judy Garland, Agnes Moorehead, and Woody Allen, showcasing her love of people, pets and knitting among other interests. Like well-known artists such as Pablo Picasso and Ernest Hemingway, Gypsy Rose Lee was a supporter of the Popular Front movement in the Spanish Civil War and raised money for charity to alleviate the suffering of Spanish children during the conflict. “She became politically active, and supported Spanish Loyalists during Spain’s Civil War. She also became a fixture at Communist United Front meetings, and was investigated by the House Committee on un-American activities.”[26] Lee was a Democrat who supported the campaign of Adlai Stevenson in the 1952 presidential election.[27] The walls of her Los Angeles home were adorned with pictures by Joan Miró, Pablo Picasso, Marc Chagall, Max Ernst, and Dorothea Tanning, all reportedly given to her by the artists themselves.[citation needed] Grave of Gypsy Rose Lee at Inglewood Park Cemetery (with wrong year of birth) In 1969, she performed for American troops in Vietnam, who, she said, “considered her their sexy grandmother”.[28]

The Baumwoll’s & Their Summer Houses on Beach 38th & 34th Streets in Edgemere Rockaway NY

It has taken me 20 years to find pictures of our houses on Beach 38th street and Beach 34th street I can finally rest. I hope you enjoy my little film. In memory of a place that is only in our minds.

The Rockways You’re seeing my grandfather Nathan Baumwoll in 1927 having fun on top of the Roxy Movie Palace in New York City that he helped put the sound in. My grandfather comes to America from Warsaw Poland in 1912. My family was there for more than 200 years. By 1915 he’s working for Jacob Fabian, an early silent film theater owner who built some of the great Movie Palaces. At 15, Nathan was one of his projectionists when they still turned the film. He would go on to do his own little Reels. He would be written about in the newspapers’ and be compare to Georges Méliès. He would be a projectionist his whole life. Fabian sells his circuit of theaters and all the Reels to Warner Brothers in 1927. They in turn begin Warner Brothers Studios

Eva Smilowitz Baumwoll My grandmother was the person who played the piano in the silent movie houses. They would marry in 1920 when they were around 20 years old. My grandmother’s family, The Smilowitz, lived in the Rockaways as early as 1915. My grandparents, Nathan and Eva Baumwoll, would go on to own three houses in the Rockaways. One was on Beach 38th Street that I used to go to. The other was on Beach 34th Street. They were family gathering homes for the summers and they ran them as summer lodgings for people getting away from the city. There were two other houses, one on Reads Lane and an earlier one in Baldwin Long Island. In later years, they ran the Commodore Hotel and the Euclid Hotel on South Beach in Miami Beach Florida.

Photograph of Jack and Roslyn Baumwoll

Bruce Baumwoll

How was all that losted

Robert Moses is blamed for having destroyed more than a score of neighborhoods by building 13 expressways across New York City and by building large urban renewal projects with little regard for the urban fabric or for human scale. Robert Moses (December 18, 1888 – July 29, 1981) was an American urban planner and public official who worked in the New York metropolitan area during the early to mid 20th century. Despite never being elected to any office, Moses is regarded as one of the most powerful and influential individuals in the history of New York City and New York State. The grand scale of his infrastructural projects and his philosophy of urban development influenced a generation of engineers, architects, and urban planners across the United States.

Remembering The Marlin Beach Hotel & The Copa In Fort Lauderdale Florida

This little film is about places that no longer exist, where gay people would go to be free. They could meet other people like themselves and just be. Every Sunday the Marlin Beach Hotel in Ft. Lauderdale Florida would have Tea Dance. This is where Andrew reach and myself (bruce baumwoll) met. We have been blessed to be together now for 41 years. Had it not been for this kind of place, the chances of many of us meeting each other did not exist. The Copa discotheque in Ft. Lauderdale was exactly the same way. So many of us spent many a night dancing away. This little film is dedicated to my dear friend John Goodwin (aka Dana Manchester). He was a legend then and will always be.

Bruce Baumwoll

Please click the photo and it shall take you to my little film.