Ann Corio, one of the last of the major burlesque talents from the heyday of that theatrical phenomenon, died March 1 in Englewood, NJ., the New York Times reported.
Ms. Corio, who was thought to be in her 80s, was noted for being banned in New York, along with the rest of the strip-tease-oriented genre, in the 1930s, but she had a reputation for being one of the major talents on the East Coast. She exploited her past in 1962 when she conceived and appeared a popular revue based on her theatrical recollections, This Was Burlesque. The show ran nearly 30 years in various forms, playing Off-Broadway, Broadway and touring houses.
She always maintained that burlesque -- a more risque version of vaudeville -- was "family" entertainment that was "naughty" but not lewd. The more refined strip artists of the century literally "teased" an audience by dropping a glove, or suggesting disrobing.
In addition to appearing in burlesque around the country, sometimes wearing only a layer of brown powder (in a touring show called White Cargo), Ms. Corio later appeared in touring productions of Rain, Cat on a Hot Tin Roof and Once More With Feeling. She also starred in a 1941 B-picture called "Swamp Woman," among other "quickies" (her term).
This Was Burlesque appeared at the Hudson Theatre on Broadway in 1964-65 season following a long run at Off-Broadway's Casino East Theater. The show, which played over the next two decades in various forms, featured such sequences as "Hello Everybody" (by the Burley Beauties), "Dance L'Orient" (the Cuties), "Powder My Back" (Linda Donovan and the Cuties) and the red-headed Corio in various scenes and reminiscences. Also in the 1965 revue were Steve Mills, Mac Dennison, Dexter Maitland, Kitty Lynne, Marilyn Marshall, Tina Kay, Harry Conley, Dick Bernie, Paul West and others, all conjuring the heyday of burlesque.
A later version of the show, which became a popular attraction at Playhouse on the Mall in Paramus, NJ, was filmed for HBO. The New York Times reported that the show last surfaced in 1991 in St. Petersburg, FL.
Ms. Corio is survived by husband Michael P. Iannucci, a former linebacker for the Pittsburgh Steelers, who produced This Was Burlesque, and two sisters, Helen LaRue of West Hartford, CT., and Lillian Denote of Bristol, CT.
-- By Kenneth Jones