Dancer/choreographer/singer/actress Gwen Verdon was a mainstay of The Great White Way for decades, but she actually got her start on the other side of the continent as a "specialty dancer" in Hollywood musicals and even nonmusicals that nonetheless needed a dance scene. Generally, a specialty dancer appeared in only one scene, or sequence, and wasn't seen again for the rest of the film. Some specialty dancers, such as Cyd Charisse and Ann Miller, went on to become full-fledged movie stars. That didn't happen in Gwen's case, so the Californian native went east, where she became a full-fledged Broadway star, first in the 1954 show Can-Can, and, more decisively, the next year in Damn Yankees, for which she won a Tony. When it came time to turn Yankees into a motion picture, Gwen was a shoo-in to repeat her role as the satanic seductress Lola, though you might get the opposite impression from the above headline that appeared in the 1950s tabloid Tempo News. In fact, you might have thought Hollywood was through with her. Why, exactly, was she "too hot"?
The line was often walked religiously. Literal religion. Until the advent of the beach movie in the 1960s, the greatest number of scantily-clad females could be found in biblical pictures, and 1951's David and Bathsheba is where we find then-specialty dancer Verdon, her red hair hidden beneath a black wig, playing a slave girl (as were most professional dancers in 1000 BC, at least according to Hollywood):
Now for something a little less devout (unless you're a disciple of Anton LaVey.) In this scene from the 1958 film version of the aforementioned Damn Yankees, Lola presents a ballpark figure to Tab Hunter, who, in a brilliant bit of acting, looks as though he's just been hit with a line drive:
Gwen Verdon, at her sexy, and, lest we forget, talented, best. As controversial as the above two clips may have been in the 1950s, were they being shown now for the very first time, I doubt there would be any calls for censorship. But even if there were...
...Boston can now be easily detoured.