Top 5 Glamorously Guilty Women of History

Karen Abbott

Welcome to Guilty Pleasures Friday!  If you feel guilty doing it, then it’s probably much more fun! 

This week I interviewed New York Times Bestselling Author Karen Abbott, an expert in unruly women of history!  Check out the author interview because Karen is AMAZING!  I thought it would be fun today to discuss famous, or rather infamous, women of history!

Just For Fun:

Lucky Day: Reading telegram: “Three Amigos, Hollywood, California. You are very great. 100,000 pesos. Come to Santa Poco put on show, stop. The In-famous El Guapo.”
Dusty Bottoms: What does that mean, in-famous?
Ned Nederlander: Oh, Dusty. In-famous is when you’re MORE than famous. This man El Guapo, he’s not just famous, he’s IN-famous.
Lucky Day: 100,000 pesos to perform with this El Guapo, who’s probably the biggest actor to come out of Mexico!
Dusty Bottoms: Wow, in-famous? In-famous?

Three Amigos!

Top 5 Glamorously Guilty Women of History

(bettedavis.com)

1.  Bette Davis

With a Hollywood career spanning 60 years and 100 films, Bette Davis is America’s Silver Screen Starlet!  Bette was a game changer in the film industry, proving women could act in a variety of challenging and dramatic roles.  She received numerous Oscar nominations, one my favorites includes her star role in Jezebel, which fans of Gone With the Wind would love.  She became the first woman to receive the American Film Institute’s Lifetime Achievement Award, and she became the first female president of the Motion Picture Academy of Arts and Sciences.  Bette didn’t earn these titles for lack of want.  She was noted as incredibly difficult to work with and took her career into her own hands multiple times.  Sometimes in breach of contract!  But through it all, she earned more compelling roles and became the highest paid woman in America in 1942.  Using her fame and fortune for good, Bette also received the Distinguished Civilian Service Medal, the Defense Department’s highest civilian award for her founding of the Hollywood Canteen, an entertainment facility for soldiers passing through LA during the war.

Learn more at bettedavis.com

(everleighsocialclub.com)

2.  Ada and Minna Everleigh

The Everleigh Sisters quickly became the madams to know during the Victorian era of Chicago’s streets.  Ada, the elder sister, was the brains behind the business, while Minna was the face and PR of the place.  Together, they rivaled any other brothel or madam and wagered a war against the religious reformers of the day!  Where many other brothels acquired their employees through means of kidnapping and poor circumstances, the Everleighs practically held auditions.  Their “butterflies” were well fed, well dressed, and educated young women who were able to make more money than most given the opportunities available to women at the time.

Yet the sisters faced many a court case, being accused of murder three times!  All by the same woman too!  Rival madam, Vic Shaw, would stop at nothing to tear the Everleighs down.  Despite the growing political tension, and the dead body of department store son Marshall Field Jr., the Everleigh sisters prevailed!

Learn more at sininthesecondcity.com

(circusinthemaking.blogspot.com)

3.  Gypsy Rose Lee

Born Rose Louise Hovick, Burlesque starlet Gypsy, began as a 12 pound baby!  The eldest daughter of Rose Hovick, Louise spent much of her childhood trying to qualm her mother’s antics and dancing as a newsboy in the background to her sister, “Dainty June.”  When showbiz had had its fill of Gypsy’s mother, and the girls couldn’t lie about their ages anymore, Gypsy and her mom fled from hotel to motel to tent by the parking lot.  Eventually, she began her career working in strip clubs, and learned that her quick wit and humor could get her through the shows without having to reveal much actual flesh.  She worked her way to the high society stages and created a customer base of men and their wives who came to hear her sing-song voice, her comedic monologues, and her tantalizing stage performance!

Learn more about gypsyroselee.net

(vintag.es)

4.  Jackie Kennedy Onassis

The least guilty of anyone on my list, but quite possibly the most glamorous!  Jackie Kennedy Onassis became First Lady at the age of 31.  Her only bad behavior was reported in grade school for disrupting the class during geography lessons.  Rather, Jackie was a true fashion icon and humanitarian.  Renowned for her work in arts restoration, she began her career as a photographer and columnist for the Washington Times-Herald newspaper.  She went on to boarding school and became fluent in French, Spanish and Italian, which assisted her greatly in her world travels as First Lady and goodwill ambassador.  Restoring parts of the White House and preserving spaces such as the Smithsonian’s Renwick Building and Grand Central Station are among her list of accomplishments during office.  Widowed at 34 after her husband, President John F. Kennedy, was murdered, she created the JFK Presidential Library and Museum in memorial.  After the death of her second husband, Aristotle Onassis, she began her career again in publishing, working at Doubleday as Senior Editor.  A lifetime promoter of the arts, Jackie often held dinners and meetings at the White House where writers, artists and musicians could mingle with statesmen alike.  Jackie was refined and only unruly in her passion for promoting the arts!

Learn more at jfklibrary.org

(nndb.com)

5.  Margaret Sanger

Where would my Women’s Studies degree be if I didn’t include Margaret Sanger?!  Many women of today owe their sexual health care to the activism led by Margaret Sanger.  Working as a nurse in the early 1900’s through the 1960’s, Sanger experienced firsthand the health risks from frequent pregnancies and poverty.  Her own mother died at the age of 50 from tuberculosis and cervical cancer, after 18 pregnancies in 22 years!  Margaret is the founder of Planned Parenthood and the birth control movement.  She was arrested in 1916 for distributing contraception.  Her trial made public the health risks for women who had too many pregnancies too close together, and the disastrous consequences of back alley abortions.  Her goal wasn’t to promote abortion by any means, but to give women more options as to when they bore children.  Contraceptive access remains a history making change in the lives of all women.  Much of our women’s health care system we owe to Margaret Sanger!

Learn more at biography.com

What women of history do you think are dangerously dynamic?  

And SPECIAL CONGRATULATIONS to WINNER of the American Rose: A Nation Laid Bare: The Life and Times of Gypsy Rose Lee book giveaway: 

Marcia Richards

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9 responses

  1. Fantastic post! And this on Margaret Sanger: “Her goal wasn’t to promote abortion by any means, but to give women more options as to when they bore children.” Amen, sister. Eighteen pregnancies in 22 years! Wow. She is one of my heroes. And my minor is in Women’s Studies.

    1. A fellow minor! I knew I liked you Renee!

  2. Interesting ladies, Jess

    I had to laugh about Jackie, “disrupting the class during geography lessons.” She was all rebel, eh? The Everlieghs sound like they’d make a good movie though!

    Cheers!

    1. Maybe the next DFW could be held at the Everleigh Club?

      Bet Ada and Minna would let us bum our bags! 😉

      1. I dont think the goodbyes would takes as long either!

  3. How about Josephine Baker as #6? Hemingway liked her……that has to make her at least somewhat in-famous!

    1. I kind of despise Hemingway. I know that’s terrible to admit. I will check out this Josephine…

      I almost included Mamah Borthwick Cheney who had an affair with Frank Lloyd Wright.

  4. Love this post, Jess! You know I love women of history – the wild and the tame ones! Great choices here, too. Woohoo! I won the book! I’m so excited! Can’t wait to read it! Always loved Gypsy Rose Lee. Learned about her when I was a teen. My mom knew all about her because she was a vaudeville dancer, too, though not a stripper. 😉 Thanks Jess!

    1. What an interesting life you lead! So happy you won the book! Congrats!

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