Alan Alda

Tales of the burlesque backroom: A 101-year-old Baltimore woman's celeb-filled memories of a bygone era

Tales of the burlesque backroom: A 101-year-old Baltimore woman's celeb-filled memories of a bygone era

As a teenager in New York, Florence Woolston hooked school to answer an ad for girls who wanted to be in the movies. She got the job, spent three weeks doing extra work, and got seriously bitten by the showbiz bug. By the time she was 16, using the name Sandra Ellis, she was performing in front of audiences full-time.

“I made up my mind that I wanted to go on the stage,” she says. “I just felt, this is what my calling is.”

All of this happened nearly 90 years ago. Today, seven months shy of her 102nd birthday, Woolston is among the last survivors of the golden age of burlesque. Sitting in her North Baltimore rowhome, still healthy and engaging and recalling her showgirl days...

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