Lahoma Willingham was 1/16 Chickasaw and born into a family that was very active within the tribe. Lahoma’s cousin Floyd MayTubby, who was Governor of the Chickasaw Nation in 1939. Still mayor in 1943, Floyd appointed Lahoma “Chickasaw Princess” at the 1943 American Indian Exposition, and in that capacity she frequently represented the Chickasaw Nation in parades and at official gatherings.
Lahoma studied at the Molly O’Day School of Dance located in Oklahoma City. At 15, Lahoma quit school and joined a touring dance troupe formed by her teacher. Unfortunately, the tour was unsuccessful and most of the dancers returned home. But Lahoma was determined to become a professional dancer and started a career in burlesque. Frequently billed as “The Chickasaw Chic”, Princess Lahoma became one of the most popular feature burlesque dancers of the 1950s. Lahoma was among the highest paid burlesque dancers of her era, and in 1951 her appearance at the Trocadero (Troc) Theater in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania surpassed all previous attendance records.
Princess Lahoma died in 1966, and was survived by her husband and two sons. One of Lahoma’s sons went on to become a successful businessman, and the other an acclaimed artist.