Tempest Storm, the fiery redhead known as a burlesque icon who starred in early Russ Meyer films, has passed away. She was 93.
Storm died in her Las Vegas apartment on Tuesday, the Las Vegas Review-Journal reported, battling dementia for the past few months. She also struggled after undergoing hip surgery on April 8, and was monitored 24 hours a day until her death.
Tempest was easily one of the best known and highest rated burlesques [performers] of all time, and was an active part of the burlesque community to the very end, “Burlesque Hall of Fame director Dustin Wax told the Review-Journal.” She will be terribly missed in the burlesque community and far beyond. “
“She was the last of the great legends in the golden age of burlesque,” added her longtime friend and business partner Harvey Robbins. “She was perhaps the greatest of all.”
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Born Annie Blanche Banks in 1928, Storm left home in seventh grade and moved to Hollywood at the age of 15 to pursue a career. A client worked as a waitress and suggested she make money as a striptease performer. She got an audition at Follies Theater in 1951 and had to choose a stage name – Sunny Day or Tempest Storm.
“Well, I said, I think it might as well be Tempest Storm,” she said.
Storm took the burlesque world by storm, becoming the highest paid artist ever in 1956 with a 10-year $ 100,000 contract with the burlesque production company Bryan-English.
She eventually took over the movie business, scoring a role alongside Bettie Page in Irving Klaw’s 1955 film, “Teaserama.”
But her Hollywood story didn’t end there. Storm also said she was in a relationship with Elvis Presley and former President John F. Kennedy.
“Elvis the Pelvis,” she told local news outlet WQAD8 in 2013. “It was 1956. I was seen at The Dunes Hotel in Las Vegas, which is now the Bellagio. We had a burlesque review and he came to see the show. He came up to me and sat down – he had the most beautiful eyes – and we got into a relationship and it was absolutely fantastic. He was a true southern gentleman.
As for JFK, their alleged affair started before he became president.
“I met him in 1957 when he was a senator,” she said. “It was a great relationship. He was a great man in his politics and everything. I hadn’t seen him in years, and the last time I saw him I said, ‘You’re going to be president,’ and he said, ‘I hope that you are right! ‘ “
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Storm was featured in the 2016 documentary ‘Tempest Storm’, which focuses on her career and estrangement from her daughter Patricia, who she had with Herb Jeffries, a singer with the Duke Ellington Orchestra.
Her last performance was in the Plaza in 2010 for the Burlesque Hall of Fame reunion show, but a few months later she hosted the “Tempest Storm’s Las Vegas Burlesque Revue,” according to Las Vegas Weekly.
“The crowd went crazy for us and for burlesque,” she said at the time. “It was as if I was on stage for the first time.”