PHOTO GALLERY: 8 Actresses as Gypsy Rose Lee in GYPSY

Gypsy Rose Lee HeadshotGypsy Rose Lee, the world-famous burlesque entertainer whose life story was adapted into the musical GYPSY, was born on this date in 1911. (The date of her birth is in contention, however: birth records show she was born on January 8th, but Ms. Lee always recognized January 9th as her birth date.) Ms. Lee, who was born Louise Hovick in Seattle Washington, gained notoriety as an “ecdysiast” (or stripper) on the Vaudeville circuit. She went on to become an actress, playwright, and author.

In the musical GYPSY, based on Ms. Lee’s 1957 memoir, the character of Louise blossoms from an awkward adolescent to a graceful and urbane stage star. Though the musical’s protagonist is overbearing stage mother Rose, the show’s title actually refers to Louise. Let’s take a look at eight actresses who have portrayed her over the years…

GYPSY Louise (1)1. Sandra Church – The Original Broadway Production with Ethel Merman (1959)

Gypsy Louise Musical

Sandra Church in GYPSY (1959)

Ethel Merman GYPSY Poster

2. Natalie Wood – 1962 Film with Rosalind Russell

Gypsy Louise Musical

Natalie Wood as Gypsy Rose Lee (1962)

Rosalind Russell Gypsy Poster

3. Zan Charisse (niece of Cyd Charisse) – West End Premiere (1973) and Broadway Revival (1974), both with Angela Lansbury

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Zan Charisse in GYPSY (1973)

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4. Crista Moore – Broadway Revival with Tyne Daly (1989)

Gypsy Louise Musical

Crista Moore performs “The Strip” (1989)

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5. Cynthia Gibb – Film with Bette Midler (1993)

Gypsy Louise Musical

Cynthia Gibb performs “The Strip” (1993)

Bette-Midler-Gypsy Poster

6. Tammy Blanchard – Broadway Revival with Bernadette Peters (2003)

Gypsy Louise Musical

Tammy Blanchard in GYPSY (2003)

Bernadette GYPSY Poster

7. Laura Benanti – Broadway Revival with Patti LuPone (2008)

Gypsy Louise Musical

Laura Benanti as Gypsy Rose Lee (2008)

Patti Lupone GYPSY

8. Laura Pulver – West End Revival with Imelda Staunton (2015)

Gypsy Louise Musical

Laura Pulver in GYPSY (2015)

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Happy Birthday to Gypsy Rose Lee. And thank you to Sandra, Natalie, Zan, Crista, Cynthia, Tammy, Laura, Laura, and all the other actresses who have brought Ms. Lee to life on stage and screen!Gypsy_Rose_Lee_NYWTS_1