Showgirls on screen -- A brief glimpse at the history of exotic dancers in film, from ''Gypsy'' to ''Flashdance''

By Dave Karger
Updated September 29, 1995 at 04:00 AM EDT


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Showgirls and the upcoming Melissa and Striptease add their shimmying to a long line of strippers on celluloid. Below, a tantalizing peek at the history of on-screen showgirls (and one showboy).

The Blue Angel (1931) The German film that made Marlene Dietrich a star. With sultry voice and silky legs, Dietrich, as cabaret performer Lola, lures a stuffy professor into the world of erotica.

Lady of Burlesque (a.k.a. Striptease Lady, 1943) Barbara Stanwyck’s Dixie Daisy sets out to solve a G-string of burlesque-house murders with comic Michael O’Shea.

Gypsy (1962) In the screen version of the Jule Styne-Stephen Sondheim musical, Natalie Wood plays the real-life Gypsy Rose Lee, a performer attempting to escape her overbearing stage mother.

The Stripper (1963) Would you believe Joanne Woodward as a stripper who falls for a teenage boy? Believe it, but don’t see it.

Lenny (1974) One of the film’s six Oscar nods went to Valerie Perrine for her performance as Hot Honey Harlow, a nightclub dancer who marries stand-up comic Lenny Bruce (Dustin Hoffman).

Flashdance (1983) Welder by day, exotic dancer by night, Jennifer Beals discovers what a feeling it is to ”disrobicize” and dream of admission to a ballet company.

A Night in Heaven (1983) Christopher Atkins is a college student/stripper who seduces his teacher (Lesley Ann Warren) after she shows up at the club where he performs (”Heaven” — get it?).

Stripper (1986) This documentary aims to give viewers ”a close-up look at the most sensual part of a woman.her soul.” But the women’s bodies are no doubt what earned it an R rating.

Blaze (1989) Lolita Davidovich and Paul Newman prove strippers and Louisiana pols make fine bedfellows in this comedy from Bull Durham director Ron Shelton.

Exotica (1995) Mia Kirshner entrances strip-club customers while director Atom Egoyan’s film noirish visuals create a new movie milieu: the techno strip joint.


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