Saturday, February 11, 2012

Blaze Starr

Blaze Starr (born Fannie Belle Fleming, January 1, 1932) is an American former stripper and American burlesque star. Her vivacious presence and inventive use of stage props earned her the nickname "The Hottest Blaze in Burlesque". She was also known for her affair with Louisiana governor Earl Long.

Starr was born in rural Wilsondale, West Virginia, to Lora Evans and Goodlow Mullins (later changed to Fleming). Fleming left home at age fifteen in 1947, and moved to Washington D.C. where Red Snyder discovered her either working in a doughnut shop (according to her autobiography) or as a hat check girl (according to other sources). Starr moved to Baltimore, Maryland where she began performing at the Two O'Clock Club nightclub in 1950, eventually becoming its headliner. Starr rose to national renown after she was profiled in a February 1954 Esquire magazine article, "B-Belles of Burlesque: You Get Strip Tease With Your Beer in Baltimore". The Two O'Clock Club remained her home base, but she began to travel and perform in clubs throughout the country.

Two of Starr's performances, including the combustible sofa, are among the burlesque routines featured in the 1956 compilation film Buxom Beautease, produced and directed by Irving Klaw.

Director Doris Wishman's 1962 film Blaze Starr Goes Nudist, a nudie-sexploitation film, features Starr's one lead movie role. As the title suggests, she plays herself. The film is also known as Blaze Starr Goes Back to Nature, Blaze Starr Goes Wild, Blaze Starr the Original, and Busting Out.

Diane Arbus photographed Starr in 1964. The photo "Blaze Starr at home" was included in the book and traveling exhibit Diane Arbus: Family Albums.

The 1989 movie Blaze recounts the story of their relationship. It was directed by Ron Shelton, adapted by him from Starr's 1974 memoir Blaze Starr: My Life as Told to Huey Perry. Lolita Davidovich portrays Starr in the movie, and Paul Newman plays Long. Starr herself appears in a cameo role.

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