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Lili St. Cyr Profile

Lili St. Cyr
Lili St. Cyr
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(Willis Marie Van Schaak)
3 June 17 is born in Minneapolis, Minnesota, of German-Italian descent. Her sisters will become burlesque stars in their own right, Dardy Orlando and Barbara Moffett.
c. 20 her family moves to Pasadena when she’s two years old
? after high school, she works in a Pasadena restaurant where she’s spotted by photographer Jack Powell
? along with her younger sister, Dardy Orlando, she audits for producer Nils T. Granlund
? is a chorus line dancer at the Florentine Gardens nightclub in Hollywood. There she’s signed by New York talent agent Miles Ingalls.
? marries Richard Hubert, head waiter at the Florentine Gardens, her husband number one
? is off to San Francisco to appear at the swank Music Box nightclub with the Duncan Sisters
40 producer Ivan Fehnova casts her for his show at the Hollywood Theatre in San Diego and names her Lili Marie
40-45 performs for Fehnova
? plays at the 606 Club and Colosimo’s in Chicago, at the Latin Quarter in Miami and at Leon & Eddie’s in New York
? marries motorcycle racer Cordy Milne, husband number two
Mid-40 is the attraction of the Gayety vaudeville theater in Montreal
46 moves to Las Vegas, Nevada, where the El Rancho becomes her headquarters
? millionaire interior decorator Tom Douglas helps to adapt her act, starting with her bubble bathing in a specially designed transparent glass-tub
46 marries ballet dancer Paul Valentine, the former Val Valentinof, her husband number three, in Mexico. Harry Crocker is best man.
April 48 is in court in Los Angeles saying her act is art, but Municipal Judge Byron J. Walters rules it's lewd and covers the case with a $50 fine. The owner of the burlesque theater, where the performance was given December 16, is sentenced to 39 days in jail.
December 48 columnist Dorothy Kilgallen thinks Lili is "quenching her torch for Paul Valentine with a new heart interest, agent Walter Kane. The bond that links them is an unusual one - a fiction story kind of thing..."
49 performs her glass-tub act with Valentine at the Florentine Gardens, Hollywood
August 49 she and Valentine are reported on the verge of a marital break-up
26 September 49 Valentine files for divorce because "everybody in the country saw more of her than I did." Charging mental cruelty, he claims the only time he saw her was when he got her a billing in Hollywood. Lili, who's in Montreal filling an engagement, does not contest the divorce.
50 marries New York restaurateur Armando Orsini, husband number four
February 50 Winchell reports her sister Dardy will marry Harold Minsky, son of the famous burlesque impresario, in three weeks in Havana, Cuba
Early May 50 columnist Earl Wilson knows that Dardy and Minsky "were married in Chicago last week"
November 50 is reported feuding with Dardy, whom she accuses of stealing some of her best routines
February 51 moves her act to Ciro's but finds that the movie star crowd isn't as enthusiastic as her fans at a main street burlesque house. She strips from a mink stole and Dior gown down to lace pants and two strategic sequins, but her Hollywood audience says she was too far away for them to get a good look. Her opening is attended by Ronald Reagan with Nancy Davis, Franchot Tone with Barbara Payton, Lex Barker with Arlene Dahl, and Mickey Rooney.
5 July 51 her act in Montreal is so torrid that patrons at the Gayety Theater rush for the fire escape to cool off when she concludes her dance. As a result, one man is killed and three others injured when part of the fire escape collapses.
18 October 51 is arrested in Los Angeles after her Interlude Before Evening show at Ciro’s for lewd and lascivious performance
25 October 51 appears in Beverly Hills justice court with attorney Jerry Geisler asking for a blue-ribbon jury to hear charges that she put on an indecent show for a movieland crowd at Ciro's nightclub. Justice Henry H. Draeger sets December 4 for the trial and adds that the "panel will be representative." Geisler tells reporters he plans to present her in her famed bubble bath routine at the trial.
November 51 Miami Beach's Beachcomber buys her striptease contract from the 52nd Street Club Samos for nearly $10,000. "It will be deducted from her weekly wages."
11 December 51 is acquitted in Beverly Hills for giving an indecent appearance last October 19 at Ciro's. The jury takes an hour and 18 minutes for the verdict.
19 December 51 Herman D. Hover, proprietor of Ciro's, is freed in Beverly Hills of charges of permitting an indecent performance
May 52 she and her husband are reported renegotiating. "He begged her to reconsider and the turndown left him in tatters..."
her ex, Paul Valentine, marries 32-year-old Flavina Sultana Abdul-Khan, daughter of an Iranian khan
columnist Earl Wilson reports handsome Victor Jory to be her latest admirer
she and Dagmar are paged by producer Albert Zugsmith for his upcoming Space Girl
goes to Italy to join her husband, Armando Orsini, who's making a film deal for her
June 52 Earl Wilson reports she earns "up to $5,000 a week doing what Eve did for nothing"
January 53 she and Orsini are "sounding screechy notes in their marriage"
February 53 will star with Sterling Hayden in Albert Zugsmith's upcoming Lucifer Match, about the second bombing of Pearl Harbor
June 53 celebrates her birthday on the RKO lot and gives designer Michael Woulfe real pearls for cuff links
30 June 53 announces that she will obtain a Nevada divorce from Orsini after a three-year marriage. "We get along well enough, but Armand wants to stay in New York and operate his Italian coffee shop. I guess we just drifted apart."
July 53 columnist Erskine Johnson reports that her divorce from Orsini was first spilled in his column. "Lili denied it to everybody but us."
is expected to marry film actor Monty Hale as soon as her divorce from Orsini is final
October 53 Winchell reports she and Orsini reconciled
53 divorces Orsini
? performs at the Samoa in New York
? Walter Kane, right-hand man for billionaire Howard Hughes, approaches her after a nightclub act, and shortly thereafter she’s signed to a seven-year contract with RKO
? works on two movies of producer Al Zugsmith, Female of the Town and Girl of the South Pacific. Both will be never finished.
August 53 the press thinks that Monte Hale will be mighty low if she decides not to divorce Orsini
November 53 her voice has to be dubbed in Son of Sinbad
54 is in The Miami Story, but her scenes wind up on the cutting room floor
February 54 stays in New York to get her Park Avenue cafe in operation. On April 21 she will fly to Las Vegas for a new four-week engagement at the El Rancho Vegas.
c. February 54 meets 28-year-old Ted Jordan, a nephew of band leader Ted Lewis, while he is acting as a Navy judge in the Broadway version of The Caine Mutiny Court Martial
March 54 finally crashes her Park Avenue project
Winchell reports "the blazingest scandal of the century is the way Sonny Tufts greeted stripper Lili St. Cyr at a party she tossed the other midnight"
? earns more than $200,000 a year
April 54 she and Ted Jordan are in the audience to see Billy Reed at the Little Club
August 54 appears at the Skyroom of the Mapes Hotel, Las Vegas. She makes her entrance in mink and an exit in a swish of silks.
she and Nicky Hilton have found each other
? is expected to marry Jordan on September 23
October 54 announces that she will marry Ted Jordan at 2 a.m. on October 5 in a civil ceremony in Las Vegas. She selected the 2 a.m. hour in order to keep the marriage from interfering with her two nightly appearances.
4 October 54 declares in Las Vegas that her marriage to Jordan has been "postponed indefinitely," and friends say it was because she would not agree to give up her career. Since this is the third postponement, friends say it looks to them as if the marriage definitely is off. Jordan returns to Hollywood.
Mid-October 54 dates Victor Mature in Las Vegas
October 54 columnist Wilson reports that her marriage to Jordan is off, but Jordan will use St. Cyr as his stage name
22 February 55 marries Edgar H. Friedman, a.k.a. Ted Jordan, her husband number five, at the Hotel El Rancho Vegas in Las Vegas. He's 28; she's 33. The ceremony is performed by District Judge Frank McNamee. Her wedding cake has the shape of a mushroom cloud for Anatomic Bomb, Lili St. Cyr. The El Rancho Vegas presents her with a five-year contract worth $240,000.
55 begins to design and market a line of provocative lingerie
November 55 her book Intimate Secrets hits the stands
23 August 56 touches off a gambling casino brawl between her husband and 33-year-old Derek Goodman, a South African playboy and former suitor of Zsa Zsa Gabor. The battle occurs after her performance when Jordan clips Goodman on the jaw apparently over a remark about Lili. Goodman answers with a flying tackle. Lili screams and wrings her hands as the antagonists wrestle, shout and overturn tables. Deputy sheriffs finally arrive and send everyone to bed.
September 56 leaves the stable of Miles Ingalls
she and Jordan have a spat about her South African admirer before taking off for Europe but patch it up
January 57 she and Jordan call it a day
September 57 reported divorcing, she and Jordan are seen romantic at the Little Club
November 57 is at the Cedars of Lebanon Hospital for an appendectomy
December 57 columnist Walter Winchell advises "don't invite Micky Marlo and Lili St. Cyr to the same poddy..."
spends $5,000 for swank clothes to take off in her new act
August 58 is reported filming the bathtub scene in I, Mobster in the nude, but all footage is cut before reaching the cinemas
31 October 58 is found unconscious in her Las Vegas hotel bungalow. Police say she had taken an overdose of sleeping pills in an attempted suicide after a quarrel with her boyfriend, Fred Carson. He found her when he arrived for a supper date. She is taken to a hospital.
End November 58 files for divorce from Jordan charging him with extreme cruelty, saying he caused her great unhappiness and injured her health. There are no children and no property rights to be settled. She files under her real name, Marie Van Schaak Friedman.
December 58 is noted escorted by Renoite John Carson
dates singer-actor Vic Damone
January 59 Winchell reports: "I didn't see anything printed about a fist fight in Hollywood between Lili St. Cyr's estranged husband and her latest amour. This time the unwanted husband won."
Late 50s Chris Martin, the world’s largest manufacturer of bubble bath products, makes her a partner and vice president of Bubbly Relations
22 July 59 divorces Jordan in Reno in a brief ceremony. She will open her usual summer engagement at the Mapes Hotel in Las Vegas on July 30.
August 59 appears with Myron Cohen, America's foremost storyteller, at the Skyroom of the Mapes Hotel, Las Vegas
21 September 59 secretly marries her husband number six, Joseph Albert "Strong Boy" Zomar, a cinema special effects man who specializes in explosions, in Tijuana, Mexico. He's 39; she's 37. The pair met in Squaw Valley, California, the site of the 1960 Olympic Games.
October 59 announces in San Francisco that she will marry Zomar in a Californian wedding
31 October 59 remarries Zomar in San Francisco saying: "We thought it wood be good to get married in California. I like California." It's Zomar's third and her sixth marriage.
December 60 is a Christmas threesome in Las Vegas with her ex-husband Jordan and present husband, Zomar
June 61 for the first time, she takes part in a Ken Murray comedy routine at the Skyroom of the Mapes Hotel, Las Vegas
April 63 columnist Earl Wilson reports her and her sister, Mrs. Harold Minsky, both divorcing
August 63 even though burglars steal her furs, wigs, and jewelry worth $10,000 from her Hollywood Hills home, she opens at the Las Vegas’ Silver Slipper with her famous bathtub act. She's 45.
April 64 performs at Bimbo's 365 Club, San Francisco
26 May 64 she and Zomar separate
c. 29 May 64 files for divorce from Zomar in Los Angeles Superior Court claiming extreme cruelty
9 July 64 wins a divorce from Zomar in Los Angeles stating he was intoxicated nightly and was often angry with her. Asked if she is through with marriage, she answers: "I hope not."
September 64 is reported dating her ex-husband, Ted Jordan
65 publishes her autobiography ...And Men My Fuel... where she claims to have had seven abortions and declares to despise children
August 65 columnist Earl Wilson reports she will wed young Lorenzo Holmes
August 66 plans to open a New York branch of her Los Angeles "Undie World" lingerie shop
September 66 is seen at Les Champs with Lorenzo Holmes. Insiders suspect he will become her husband number seven.
21 February 67 is arrested in Montreal performing a bathtub act at a Montreal nightclub. Police say her arrest will serve as a test case designed to lay down the standards of nightlife entertainment during the World's Fair, Expo '67.
March 67 is expected to rest awhile after her Latin Quarter stint to let her ulcers quiet down
March 70 her show is among those cancelled by the first full-scale strike to hit Las Vegas
70s sells her enterprise to a lingerie shop on Santa Monica Boulevard but retains an interest in it
29 January 99 as Willis Marie Van Schaack, she dies at age 81 in Los Angeles, California
Sources:
Va Va Voom! by Steve Sullivan, Waterloo Daily Courier, Indiana Evening Gazette, Mansfield News-Journal, Syracuse Herald-Journal, Valley Morning Star, Ames Daily Tribune, Nevada State Journal, The Independent Record, Humboldt Standard, The Times Recorder, Dixon Evening News, Council Bluffs Iowa Nonpareil, The Monessen Daily Independent, Wisconsin Rapids Daily Tribune, The Zanesville Signal, Photoplay, The Lethbridge Herald, Statesville Record & Landmark, The Bridgeport Post, The Portsmouth Herald, The Lima News, Reno Evening Gazette, The Independent, The Hammond Times, The Odessa American, The Coshocton Tribune, The News, The Holland Evening Sentinel, Oakland Tribune, Entertainment, The Daily Gleaner, Tri-City Herald, The Edwardsville Intelligencer, Indiana Evening Gazette
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Filmography
Viva Vavoom: Lili St. Cyr
Java's Bachelor Pad: Lili St. Cyr
Hall of Fame: Lili St. Cyr
Lili St. Cyr Photo Gallery
Bellydancers and Harem Girls
Pin-Up Girls: Lili St. Cyr