Gypsy Rose Lee grave
“Gypsy Rose Lee”
(Rose Louise Hovick)
Inglewood Park Cemetery
Inglewood, California

     Gypsy Rose Lee had no major talents. And I’m quoting her. She sang fairly well; she danced a little better. She was statuesque, but not beautiful. She acted with authority, but without inspiration. What, then, made her a legend?
     She glowed. She stepped upon a stage, and she filled it because she was a presence. God, or whoever arranges these matters, had given her the magic gifts of enthusiasm and incandescence, and the tenacity of a bulldog. From the age of five to her death, she never stopped working.
     She was difficult and demanding and maddeningly self-assured; she was different, and certain, and gloriously professional. She strode the stage with security, and if there was insecurity in her heart, no audience ever knew it—only perhaps her sister, June, or her son, Erik.
     She was a famous figure, world famous. Some might even say notorious—the most popular strip-teaser ever known, and now, in the context of our time, how innocent, how naive. What Gypsy was selling was not nudity; it was a comment—a wry and terribly funny comment on our hang-ups with sex. She took off a glove, exposed a shoulder and smiled, and made the world laugh joyously with her—and at her.
     For she knew what she was. And in her books and in the pieces she wrote for the American Mercury, Collier’s, The New Yorker, and Harper’s, she revealed her in-depth intellect. In her defiance of an idiotic American Legion official who tried to have her blacklisted bacause of her support of the Spanish Loyalists, she showed her political guts.
     What else?
     She loved luxury. She loved fame—and she had a dealer’s eye for a Regency chair, an Empire cocoa pot, or a Rolls Royce.
     She was a total original. But, above all, she was the most private public figure of her time. And who ever had a better friend?

     —Leonard Spigelgass
        The New York Times
        May 10, 1970

Gypsy Rose Lee's autobiography
Gypsy Rose Lee’s autobiography
Gypsy: Memoirs of America’s Most Celebrated Stripper
is still in print and highly recommended by