Sally Rand: Who's Who In Hollywood 1900-1976

By: David Ragan

This amazing woman, Queen of the Fan Dancers, is in her '70s ... but she keeps her shape and her dates with her public:  "I have never retired--I have averaged 40 working weeks a year since 1933."

She also keeps her equilibrium, except when labeled an "exotic" dancer.  "The dictionary," she is apt to remind you, "defines 'exotic' as that which is strange and foreign.  I am not strange; I like boys.  I am not foreign; I was born and raised in Hickory County, Mo."

Her act hasn't changed.  In clubs she usually does two numbers--the fan dance and her famous five-foot bubble dance; at outdoor theaters, usually just the bubble because of a long-ago experience--"when I first came out with my fans and the wind hit me, I almost took off."

How good her act is at this late date is indicated by Hollywood Reporter critic Sue Cameron, who reviewed a 1974 performance in L.A. and found the fan dance "glorious" ("The way she moves those fans is an art") and the bubble number "remarkable" ("The audience loved her").

Sally Rand says she does "exactly the same" dance ... that made her the sensation of the 1933 Chicago World's Fair because,  "Why not?  I'm the original."

As for keeping that small (she's only 5'1"), firm, fantastic (35-22-35) shape, she says, "If you love living, you try to take care of the equipment."  But, having dieted much of her life, she finds she now can eat whatever she wishes, and her dance rehearsals and performances are the only exercise she need to stay trim.

Her special campaign today is "the value of senior citizens," and in the cities where she plays she often addresses local Kiwanis Clubs on the topic.  "I'm not the type to sit on the porch and watch life go by," she says, and given the choice, she thinks most other senior citizens would not be either.

. . .

Privately, Sally Rand is petite, bouncy, and miniskirted, and lives in a Frank Lloyd Wright-designed mansion in Glendora, Calif.  In 1974, she became a grandmother when her son Sean and his wife Linda ... had a daughter and named her Shawna Michele, whose photograph Sally flashes often and proudly.

At Christmas time 1975, she interrupted a $1,500-a-week booking in Seattle to fly to California where she prepared a "huge crown-roast Christmas dinner" for members of her church and spent the holidays with her family.  Then, flying off again on her appointed rounds, she laughed, "What in heaven's name is strange about a grandmother dancing nude?  I'll bet lots of grandmothers do it."

Go back to the Sally Rand page.

"Who's Who in Hollywood 1900-1976" is © 1976 by David Ragan and published by Arlington House Publishers.