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Gypsy: A Memoir Paperback – July 15, 1999
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"... will delight anyone who has a love for the annals of the American stage."
"This is show business, this America... this is Gypsy Rose Lee!"
- Tennessee Williams
"I found it irresistable. It's quite a performance. I bet some of it is even true, and if it wasn't, it is now."
- John Steinbeck
About the Author
Gypsy Rose Lee (1911–1970) was an infamous vaudeville entertainer best known for her burlesque performances. Her memoir was adapted into the renowned musical Gypsy. She also appeared in several films and television programs including The Trouble with Angels and The Over-the-Hill Gang. In addition to her memoir, Lee wrote the novels The G-String Murders and Mother Finds a Body, as well as the play The Naked Genius.
Erik Preminger is the son of burlesque performer Gypsy Rose Lee and film director Otto Preminger. An actor, writer, and producer, Preminger’s published works include Gypsy & Me: At Home and on the Road with Gypsy Rose Lee and My G-String Mother: At Home and Backstage with Gypsy Rose Lee.
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The book bears small resemblances to the show: There really was a monkey named Gigalo, Louise was given farm animals as pets for her birthday, there is a man that Rose links up with for several years who manages the troup, they did eat Chinese food constantly, make coats out of blankets, and a cow really talked to Rose in a dream.
There are major differences between the show and the book: The switch from Vaudeville to Burlesque was less dramatic in the book than the show -almost natural. "Herbie", Rose's companion and manager, left long before the act went Burlesque. And one very 'big' difference: you'll notice in the show that Grandpa calls Louise "Plug" but we dont' really know why. The little girl playing Louise was too adorable for words and grew up to be the stunning Natalie Wood. But, Gypsy got the name plug because she was a large child. And she grew up large. It wasn't until a couple years in Burlesque that she became more svelte. This is also a major point in the books, detailing the diets she was on and how it destroyed her self-esteem as a child.
Gypsy, the movie, is a fun-filled version of life on the road for a vaudeville troupe. Yes, there are hard times, but nothing so bad. Gypsy the memoir describes eviction, near starvation, nights of sleeping in the cars, almost frozen, con artists - real life struggle.
It's a quick read that is terribly fascinating. I highly recommend it.