Lili St. Cyr
1918 - 1999
Who exactly is Lili St. Cyr?
Many people watching The Rocky Horror Picture Show have wondered just who exactly Lili St. Cyr is, and why Janet blesses her name while swimming in the pool.
Lily St. Cyr was a famous stripper from the 1940s and 50s. Lili however also opened her own lingerie shop in Hollywood, and appeared in several films (generally starring as herself):
Born Marie Van Schaark in 1918, she began her dancing career as a teenager in the chorus line at the ‘Florentine Gardens’ Nightclub in Hollywood. But her natural beauty, with the aid of classical ballet training, soon moved her into the solo spotlight. The in 1940, drawn by the big money only stripping could pay, she changed her name to Lili St Cyr and developed a series of burlesque routines quite unlike the standard bump’n’grind of the era. She established herself in Las Vegas with acts involving spectacular sets and costumes which attracted both men and women to her shows. One of her best known acts was a ‘reverse strip’ wherein she dressed herself in designer gowns - but only after taking a bath on stage!
This Burlesque Bubble Bath got her into hot water after a Ciro’s show in LA in 1951. She was charged with giving a "lewd and lascivious performance", but after offering to perform her act in the courtroom to demonstrate its decency, a jury found her not guilty. While this ‘moral’ victory added to her fame, she’d already made her fortune as the highest paid of all exotic dancers - eclipsing the payrolls of the previous "Queens of Burlesque" Gypsy Rose Lee and Ann Corio.
Then, at the height of her stage career, Hollywood beckoned. Initially Lili appeared in a series of short films built around her dance routines, including her famous Bubble Bath seen in Love Moods (1952), while her Harem routine provided the finale for Irving Klaw’s Varietease (1954). But it was Howard Hughes’ cheesecake classic Son Of Sinbad (1955) that introduced Lili to Hollywood features (review to follow). She then went to appear, always typecast as the dancer, in Josette Of New Orleans (1958), The Naked and the Dead (also reviewed below, 1958), Roger Corman’s I, Mobster (1959) and finally Runaway Girl (1966).
Lili St Cyr died on January 29th 1999 aged 80.
More pics of Lily St. Cyr
Kara Mae's Lili St. Cyr Page
The Lili St. Cyr burlesque page