Actress and burlesque star Sally Rand and her giant bubble.
I haven’t been out of work since the day I took my pants off.
Though Sally Rand is famous for her “fan dance” which she debuted at the Chicago World’s Fair in May of 1933 in which the petite performer used two pink seven-foot ostrich fans strategically to “cover” what appeared to onlookers to be her nude body, she is equally well-known for her beguiling “bubble dance” which Rand brought to Chicago when she returned in 1934.
A show flier advertising Sally Rand’s famous ‘bubble dance’ at the Paradise Cabaret in New York.
Born Harriet Helen Gould Beck in the small town of Elkton Missouri, Rand left home in search of fame and fortune and joined a carnival. It would be one in a long line of jobs in the entertainment business that Rand would hold during her career. Calling herself “Billie Beck” Rand took a job with the Ringling Brothers and Barnum & Bailey Circus as an acrobat, which eventually led to another more serious job with a theatre company where the young aspiring star would play opposite to future (and then nearly unknown) Hollywood superstar Humphrey Bogart in a “summer stock” production. Rand would then go on to hook up with the great Cecil B. DeMille who convinced her to change her name to “Sally Rand” and would open the door to many roles in silent features for the determined young performer.
Later on in the early 1930s Rand would start performing her “fan dances” and ultimately her “bubble dances” and her performance at the 1933 Chicago World’s Fair would mark one of many times Rand was arrested for “indecent exposure” though she had been painted by makeup guru Max Factor, Sr. in a new body paint he had formulated for Hollywood screen stars. When it comes to Rand’s bubble dance the back story is quite interesting, as well as a fascinating reflection of how ingenious Rand was when it came to keeping her fame firmly intact. When she came up with the idea of incorporating a bubble large enough to hold her inside she actually had to have one created for her.
Using her own money Rand began the exploration and development of a 60-inch bubble that she would use on stage as a prop along with her nearly nude body (which was likely cleverly concealed in a bodystocking or other crafty camouflage) and a large troop of dancers. I’ve included some incredible photos of Rand pictured with a formerly live swan, her bubble and the lightening bolt body makeup created by Max Factor for you to oogle, as well as some vintage video of Rand performing with her giant bubble.
Since we’re talking about beautiful naked ladies and bubbles and such, many of the images that follow are slightly NSFW.
Sally Rand in her famous Max Factor body makeup.
Footage of Sally Rand performing her ‘bubble dance.’
Previously on Dangerous Minds:
Satanic strippers: Vintage burlesque performers dance with the devil