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Iconic Burlesque Star Tempest Storm Dead at 93

Iconic Burlesque Star Tempest Storm Dead at 93
Stripper Tempest Storm is seen here after performing as a featured "living legend" at the Miss Exotic World Pageant at the Exotic World Burlesque Museum June 7, 2003 in Helendale outside of Barstow, California. (Photo by David McNew/Getty Images)

By    |   Thursday, 22 April 2021 10:30 AM

Iconic '50s burlesque star Tempest Storm died Tuesday in her Las Vegas apartment, longtime friend Harvey Robbins told Las Vegas Review-Journal. She was 93.

"She was the last of the great legends in the golden age of burlesque," Robbins said. "She was perhaps the biggest of all."

Storm had been struggling since having surgery on her right hip April 8, according to the report.  She was ralso suffering from dementia and was receiving around-the-clock care, according to the outlet.

Born Annie Blanche Banks on Feb. 29, 1928, in Eastman, Georgia, Storm got her first big break in 1951, when she was snapped up by Follies Theater talent manager Lillian Hunt, who introduced her to the stage.

"I needed the money. I remember going on stage for the first time, with Lillian in the wings whispering instructions," Storm recalled in a previous interview with Roger Ebert for his website. "The instant the spotlight hit, my gown fell off. I was still wondering whether I had the nerve to take it off, and it fell off. So that was when I learned the basic rule in this business: No matter what happens, keep moving." 

Storm's career got a boost after that first night and at 17, found herself needing a stage name. Hunt came up with the idea of Tempest Storm. Six months later she shot into the spotlight after a well-crafted publicity stunt. 

"A bunch of Hollywood stars were holding something called the Mickey Awards. Sort of a spoof on the Oscars. I arrived in a Rolls-Royce and was given an award by Dean Martin and Jerry Lewis. The citation read: For the biggest props in Hollywood," she said. "Well, publicity is the key in this business. You have to be realistic. I made a lot of front pages, and that was the break I needed. Everybody needs one break."

Storm went on to sell out clubs across the country. She also appeared in several feature films by Russ Meyer and Irving Klaw and in 1956 became the highest-paid burlesque performer in history after signing a contract offering her $100,000 a year with the Bryan-Engels burlesque production company. 

During her time as a dancer, Storm became well acquainted with dozens of high profile celebrities including Marilyn Monroe. She was also romantically linked to Elvis Presley, Mickey Rooney, Louis Armstrong, Sammy Davis Jr. and gangster Mickey Cohen, according to Yahoo! Entertainment.

Storm's career came to an end in June 2010, after she fractured her left hip while performing at the Burlesque Hall of Fame reunion show. 

"I'm happy with the way things turned out," she told Ebert. "I went into burlesque, which I never planned on, but at least I did make it to the top."

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Iconic '50s burlesque star Tempest Storm died Tuesday in her Las Vegas apartment, longtime friend Harvey Robbins told Las Vegas Review-Journal. She was 93...
burlesque dancer, tempest storm, elvis, stripper
Thursday, 22 April 2021 10:30 AM
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