Today the artwork came in for the cover of my biography of Rose Thompson Hovick, mother of Burlesque actress Gypsy Rose Lee and Vaudeville headliner “Baby June.” That’s a very young Gypsy Rose Lee (real name: Rose Louise Hovick) shown here with “Mama Rose” in the photograph, which was taken circa 1917.
Rose was played on Broadway by Ethel Merman, Angela Lansbury, Tyne Daly, Bernadette Peters, Patti LuPone, and will soon be played in London’s West End by Imelda Staunton. She was also portrayed in the movies by Rosalind Russell and Bette Midler. As you can see from the book cover, unlike the character that was based upon her, in reality she was a very delicate-looking woman. She was also just a teenager when she had her first child.
I found, during my research of this amazing family, that there was a whole side of the story of Mama Rose that no one else had previously uncovered. The book will be available in early November 2013 from University Press of Mississippi.