Sunday, March 31, 2013


I love finding out new things!!!
We watched the 1962 movie "Gypsy" and I was curious how accurately the musical portrayed the real life Gypsy Rose Lee.  It was fairly accurate for two of the main characters: Louise (Gypsy Rose Lee) and her sister, June.  They were child performers in vaudeville, they did have a pushy stage mother, and June was the more talented singer and dancer.  June did elope at an early age in order to escape her mother, and she became a pretty famous actress.  Louise did go into burlesque and became a "classy and witty striptease artist".  Both sisters did well in the entertainment field, acting on stage, in films and on television.  Both became writers, and June even was nominated for a Tony award for a play she wrote and then directed on Broadway,
The mother, Rose, was portrayed much more sympathetically in the movie than what I gathered from everything I found out about her.  I enjoyed reading about both Louise and June, but I was shocked at what I read about Rose!  I could not believe that when Louise was born in 1911 she was named Ellen June Hovick but when her sister was born one or two years later, her mother gave that name to the new baby and renamed her Rose Louise.  What mother does that!?!  Later, Louise became know as Gypsy Rose Lee and June went by the name of June Havoc.
June never knew exactly in what year she was really born because her mother forged several birth certificates for each of the girls.  Rose put June into silent films as a toddler, and was able to get her to cry for the cameras by telling her the family dog was killed.  The girls supported the family throughout their childhood by performing in vaudeville.  As I mentioned above, June did elope with one of the boys in the act.  She was 15 or 16 at the time.  Unlike in the movie, Rose did call the police and had the boy arrested.  Rose went to the police station to meet with him carrying a concealed weapon, and tried to shoot the young man!
Horrible passport pictures of June, Louise and Rose
Rose was supported by both her daughters for the rest of her life, and continually made demands for money and gifts.  Louise set her mother up with a farm in New York state and a 10-room apartment in Manhattan which Rose ran as a boardinghouse.  One thing I read described it as a "lesbian" boardinghouse and, apparently, one of the women became Rose's lover.  Louise came for a visit, and the woman made a pass at her.  Rose shot and killed her, but was never prosecuted for it because the woman's death was made to look like a suicide! 
Those two sisters definitely had interesting lives!