Dust jacket notes: "Here in lively text and a wealth of pictures is the history of burlesque from Aristophanes to Minsky. For all practical purposes, however, burlesque in America began with the leg show when Lydia Thompson and her British Blondes, all of whom wore tights, delightfully shocked New York audiences in the 1860's. When it reached its peak in the early years of this century, burlesque was a composite entertainment that took its components from the minstrel show, variety, extravaganza, comedy 'bits,' and Extra Added Attractions like boxing bouts and the can-can. It owed its demise to Prohibition, the cinema, and the advent of short skirts when the sight of a woman's legs ceased to be a rarity. Target for periodic attacks by press and public, burlesque fell into ill repute with the inauguration of such refinements as the striptease, but Mr. Sobel maintains that it fulfilled a useful function for many years as the poor man's clubhouse when, for an amount within the means of almost anyone, men could escape from nagging wives and business worries. Not that the audience was confined to the poverty-stricken, for men from every class of society were constant, though often surreptitious, habitues. For many also it was the ideal school for a vicarious sowing of wild oats and for learning the facts of life by way of glamour and merriment. The influence of burlesque can be clearly traced in the modern entertainment world. Many of today's stars of stage, screen, TV and night clubs owe their start to burlesque. Gypsy Rose Lee, Bobby Clark, Phil Silvers, Joe E. Brown, and Sophie Tucker first flaunted their wares in honky-tonk and burlesque olio; Eddie Cantor, James Barton, Leon Errol, W. C. Fields and Fanny Brice cut their teeth as comedians in the hurly-burly of wisecracking burlesque audiences."