Science Fair Project Encyclopedia
Blaze Starr (born 1932) was an American stripper and burlesque star. Her vivacious presence and inventive use of stage props earned her the nicknames "Miss Spontaneous Combustion" and "The Hottest Blaze in Burlesque". She was also notorious for her affair with Louisiana governor Earl Long.
She was born Fannie Belle Fleming in 1932 in rural Wayne County, West Virginia. Fleming left home and moved to Washington, DC when she was sixteen, where Red Snyder discovered her either working in a doughnut shop (according to her autobiography) or as a hat-check girl (according to other sources).
Snyder became Fleming's first manager, encouraged her to start stripping, and gave her the stage name Blaze Starr. After he attempted to rape her, however, Starr left Snyder. She moved to Baltimore, Maryland, eventually becoming a headliner at the Two O'Clock Club nightclub.
Starr rose to national renown after she was profiled in a February 1954 Esquire Magazine article, "B-Belles of Burlesque: You Get Strip Tease With Your Beer in Baltimore." The Two O'Clock Club remained her home base, but she started to travel and perform in clubs throughout the country.
Starr's striking red hair, voluptuous figure and on-stage enthusiasm were a large part of her appeal. The theatrical flourishes and unique gimmicks she used in her stage show went beyond established burlesque routines like the fan dance and balloon dance .
For example, Starr trained a panther to remove her clothes onstage. After it died unexpectedly, she decided to imitate a panther onstage instead, snarling at her audience while writhing on all fours. This performance, which she made a regular part of her act, eventually got her arrested for obscenity in Philadelphia.
Relationship with Earl Long
In the late 1950s, while working in at the Sho-Bar on Bourbon Street in New Orleans, Louisiana, Starr began a long-term affair with then-governor Earl Long. (Both Starr and Long were married to other people at the time.) Their relationship, invoked as one reason for Long being involuntarily committed to a mental hospital, lasted until his death in 1960. Long left her $50,000 in his will, which she refused to accept.
The 1989 movie Blaze recounts the story of their relationship. It was directed by Ron Shelton, adapted by him from Starr's 1974 memoir Blaze Starr: My Life as Told to Huey Perry . Lolita Davidovich portrays Starr in the movie, and Paul Newman plays Long. Starr herself appears in a cameo.
Starr on film
Director Doris Wishman's 1960 film Blaze Starr Goes Wild, a nudie-sexploitation film , features Starr's one lead movie role. As the title suggests, she plays herself. The film is also known as Back to Nature, Blaze Starr Goes Back to Nature, Blaze Starr Goes Nudist, Blaze Starr the Original, Busting Out and Nature Girl.
Starr eventually bought the Two O'Clock Club, which she still owns and manages. Some of her costumes and other memorabilia have been displayed at the Museum of Sex in New York City and the Exotic World Burlesque Museum in Helendale, California . She has since retired from stripping.
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