Margaret Hart Ferraro, known in the theatre world as stripper Margie Hart, died Jan. 26 after a long illness, The New York Times reported.
Mrs. Ferraro, who died in Los Angeles, where she was a political wife and social leader, was thought to be 84. Her burlesque heyday was in the 1930s and early '40s.
She was born on a Missouri farm and ran away to join a chorus line in Chicago. She was soon working the burlesque circuit, showing off a mane of red hair and her famous body. It was said she was the reason Mayor Fiorello LaGuardia shut down burlesque houses in New York City, according to The Times.
She was married for a time for comedian and writer Seaman Block Jacobs. They moved to Los Angeles and divorced. She later married John Ferraro, a Los Angeles City Council member in the 1970s.
"She loved people and they loved her," L.A. City Council president Ferraro said in a statement. "She was very intelligent, enjoyed her own unique views of Los Angeles and the world of politics, and didn't mind sharing those views." Before going "legit" in the business world by cleaning up L.A. properties and selling them for a profit, and working for charitable causes, Mrs. Ferraro went legit on stage: She appeared in national tours of Broadway's Light Up the Sky and Cry Havoc.
. Within the past year, her burlesque colleagues, the strippers Ann Corio and Lili St. Cyr, have also died.
Musical theatre buffs who know the musical score of Pal Joey (1940) hear references to the now-obscure artists St. Cyr and Hart in the song, "Zip," an account of an interview with Gypsy Rose Lee.
In the song, retold by a reporter character, Lee dismisses her rivals, suggesting she is intellectually superior: "Zip! My artistic taste is classic and dear./ Zip! Who the hell is Lily St. Cyr?" and "Zip! It took intellect to master my art./ Zip! Who the hell is Margie Hart?"
Rosita Royce and Sally Rand are also mentioned in the tune.
-- By Kenneth Jones