The definitive biography of Sally Rand, the famous fan dancer who is best known for saving the 1933 Chicago World's Fair from financial ruin. But she was oh so much more. Her 60-year career spanned silent films and vaudeville through several world's fairs, to Las Vegas and even Broadway. "Barefoot to the Chin," largely based on material from Sally's personal files, reveals her amazing life, loves, triumphs, failures, and numerous arrests for indecent exposure in all their warts and wonders. The unabashed excerpts from Sally's correspondence, not to mention the 700+ pages of text and 100 pictures, are worth the price of admission alone.
Lowe delivers an exhaustive and entertaining debut biography of actress and burlesque dancer Sally Rand, whose risque fan dance at the 1933 Chicago World’s Fair made her a national sensation. Drawing on Rand’s personal letters and scrapbooks as well as on archival research (including nearly 100 photos, many of which are included), Lowe details the dancer’s rise from her youth in the “rolling Ozark country” of Missouri to her discovery in 1924 by Hollywood director Cecil B. DeMille, who called her “the most beautiful girl in America.” He describes her years as a vaudeville dancer and the creation of the fan dance, which led to her arrest and conviction in Chicago for nudity (she’d actually cover herself with thick white body makeup or a sheer body stocking while performing), and continues through her subsequent years of touring as a dancer—including stints on Broadway and in Las Vegas—which she did until her death in 1979 at age 75. Lowe excellently captures how Rand’s success was due to her “irrepressible personality” and her business savvy as her own manager. This enlightening book just might rescue from obscurity an entertainer whose career spanned meetings with presidents Franklin D. Roosevelt and Bill Clinton. (Self-published.)
In addition to being a very detailed biography of its subject, it is simultaneously a wonderfully readable history of the era's popular culture.