1/2 & 1/2 Burlesque Acts

One of the most popular ‘gimmicks’ in burlesque was the 1/2 and 1/2 act, where a dancer played 2 characters.  Sometimes the dancer’s costume was simply split down the middle, but more elaborate acts were done with the dancer working a dummy or a puppet to portray the 2nd character.  And on occasion,  a split costume might be worn to represent two ideas — as in good versus evil.  Below you will find a selection of photos representing each of these types of acts.  This is far from an exhaustive list of the 1/2 and 1/2 acts presented in burlesque, but it gives you an idea of how a performer can take a popular idea and make it their own!  Enjoy!

Zorita dressed for her Bride and Groom routine, as scanned from the May 1942 issue of It magazine.
Zorita dressed for her Bride and Groom routine, as scanned from the May 1942 issue of It magazine.

 

Pat-Z and the Devil, were another classic 1/2 and 1/2 act.  It must have been very popular, because Pat-z went 3 at least 3 renditions of her horned-companion.
Pat-Z and the Devil, were another classic 1/2 and 1/2 act. It must have been very popular, because Pat-z went 3 at least 3 renditions of her horned-companion.

 

Maxine Holman and her 1/2 and 1/2 routine "The Lady and the Wolf", though it is frequently mentioned that the 'wolf' looks more like a donkey!
Maxine Holman and her “The Lady and the Wolf” routine, though it is often commented that the ‘wolf’ looks more like a donkey with surprisingly pointy teeth!

Maxine Holman also performed a 1/2 and 1/2 routine with an Indian chief character.
Maxine Holman also performed a 1/2 and 1/2 routine with an Indian chief character.

 

Jade Rhodora performing her "Beauty and the Beast" routine for a packed room of USA sailors.
Jade Rhodora performing her “Beauty and the Beast” routine for a packed room of USA sailors.

 

Thelma White with another rendition of the "beauty and the Beast" routine.  During the 1930-1940s, gorilla and maiden acts were very popular after the release of King Kong in 1933.
Thelma White with another rendition of the “beauty and the Beast” routine. During the 1930-1940s, gorilla and maiden acts were very popular after the release of King Kong in 1933.
Gene Gemay and her Dance of the Devil routine, where her costume helps her portray both good and evil.
Gene Gemay and her Dance of the Devil routine, where her costume helps her portray both good and evil.

 

 

 

3 comments

    1. I suspect you are thinking of her “Dixie and the King” act which she performed with a performed with a mannequin. I think it was supposed to be a play on Marilyn Monroe’s film: The Prince and the Showgirl.

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