Toronto’s Burlesque Legacy

Don Evans, of Meaford, On, wrote a great letter in response to a piece I wrote for the Toronto Star on the Victory Burlesque:

“Re: Less sleaze, more tease, July 18

During the 1930s the south side of Queen St. between Bay and York St. had two burlesque houses: the Roxy and later, around 1936, the Casino theatre.

The Roxy was converted into a regular Hollywood second run or older movie theatre before the Casino opened. I can recall seeing Burlesque stars such as Gypsy Rose Lee, Sally Rand, Rose La Rose with straight men like Rex Doyle and Robert Alda [father of Allan Alda], and comics like Phil Silvers and Abbott & Costello.

The Casino ran four shows a day, including Hollywood movies, like Boston Blackie, plus the stage show complete with a line of dancers, a couple acts including ballroom dancers, comics, MCs — usually the straight man — and of course the featured striptease artist. There was a pit band of course and Archie and boys are well recalled.

Both theatres are now long gone, but I certainly remember the Casino theatre during the 1940s featuring top acts like Nat King Cole and Sammy Davis Jr.”

For more on Toronto burlesque, check out Kevin Plummer’s great Torontoist writeup about the Lux Theatre.





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