W.W. II in San Francisco took on many different faces as told through various tales. This is a continuation of one of those stories. Chapter 10: My mother was chosen a princess for the 1939 Golden Gate International Exposition held on Treasure Island. It was this “risque” publicity photo on the top left, which ran in the S.F. Chronicle, that divorced her from several family members. The experience, however, did give her the opportunity to meet film star and renowned dancer, Sally Rand, who managed “Sally Rand’s Nude Ranch” during the fair. Mom and Sally Rand would later hook up in dance classes held at Sally Stanford’s bordello on Nob Hill.
When my mother could no longer perform ballet due to the W.W.II closure of the Opera House, she took advantage of her earlier contacts and landed a job at Sally Rand’s Music Box. The theater on O’Farrell Street in the Tenderloin is still standing but under the name of the Great American Music Hall.
By the time W.W.II rolled around, Sally Rand had already received a lot of press. She had starred in the 1934 movie Bolero with George Raft and had been arrested four times in a single day at the 1933 Chicago World Fair for riding nude on a white horse down the public streets. Bad publicity was better than no publicity, right? Mom added a bit of flair and class to the burlesque scene, dressing up Sally Rand’s traditional fan dance with operatic music. She always dressed in full costume, refusing to wear a body sock to give the illusion of nudity.
Next time we’ll visit Sonoma County during W.W.II. If you want to catch up on the other nine chapters of W.W.II in the Bay Area, go to www.johnmccarty.org and click on “W.W.II” at the bottom of any page.