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Gypsy Rose Lee Collection


Held at: Princeton University Library: Manuscripts Division [Contact Us]

This is a finding aid. It is a description of archival material held at the Princeton University Library: Manuscripts Division. Unless otherwise noted, the materials described below are physically available in their reading room, and not digitally available through the web.

Overview and metadata sections

Lee, Gypsy Rose, 1914-1970

Gypsy Rose Lee, born Rose Louise Hovick in Seattle, Wash., was an American actress and burlesque entertainer. She appeared in vaudeville acts with her sister June beginning in 1919, and made her debut in a burlesque show in 1929, taking the name Gypsy Rose Lee. She became the headliner at Billy Minsky's Republic Theatre on Broadway in 1931, and appeared in the Ziegfeld Follies in 1936. Lee eventually traveled to Hollywood, where she was billed as Louise Hovick. She returned to New York City and fell in love with Michael Todd (1909-1958), and later appeared as an actress in many of his film productions. In 1941, Lee wrote or co-wrote a mystery thriller called The G-String Murders, in which she herself played detective; it was made into the 1943 film Lady of Burlesque, starring Barbara Stanwyck. She published another mystery novel, Mother Finds a Body, in 1942. Her best-selling memoirs, ns2:titled Gypsy, were published in 1957, and were taken as inspirational material for the Jule Styne, Stephen Sondheim, and Arthur Laurents musical Gypsy: A Musical Fable. Lee went on to host a television talk show, Gypsy (1958).

A smoker, Gypsy Rose Lee was diagnosed in 1969 with lung cancer and died in Los Angeles, California, at the age of 59. She was noted for her grace, style, and sophisticated wit.

The collection consists of the original typescript of Lee's murder mystery thriller The G-String Murders and twelve (of thirteen) letters she wrote to her publishers about it. Lee wrote the letters, dated from January 4, 1941, to August 28, 1941, while on a tour of different cities; they discuss, among other subjects, drafts of the manuscript, changes that need to be made, and publicity for the book. (One of the original letters, dated June 20 and sent from the Fairmont Hotel in San Francisco, is missing). The typescript, which includes holograph corrections and annotations, was apparently typed by Lee on her new typewriter with a blue ribbon, which she mentions in her letter of Feb. 19. Also included is a pamphlet from the publishers of the book reprinting all thirteen letters. The publishers indicate that "As can be seen at a glance, the correspondence began on an extremely polite and formal plane. Like Miss Lee's celebrated specialty, however, it gradually built to a stunning climax." The pamphlet is autographed by Lee.

Arranged by accession number.

Gift of Gypsy Rose Lee on September 3, 1942 (AM12457).

For preservation reasons, original analog and digital media may not be read or played back in the reading room. Users may visually inspect physical media but may not remove it from its enclosure. All analog audiovisual media must be digitized to preservation-quality standards prior to use. Audiovisual digitization requests are processed by an approved third-party vendor. Please note, the transfer time required can be as little as several weeks to as long as several months and there may be financial costs associated with the process. Requests should be directed through the Ask Us Form.

This collection was processed by Dina Britain on May 11, 2006. Finding aid written by Dina Britain on May 12, 2006. Folder inventory added by James Clark '14 in 2012.

No appraisal information is available.

Manuscripts Division
Finding Aid Date
Access Restrictions

The collection is open for research.

Use Restrictions

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Collection Inventory

Correspondence of Lee with the Publisher Relating to The G-string Murders and Printed Pamphlet of the Same, Autographed by Miss Lee, 1941 January 4-August 28. 1 folder.
Physical Description

1 folder

The G-string Murders, Typescript with Holograph Corrections by the Author, undated. 1 folder.
Physical Description

1 folder

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