Margaret Hart Ferraro

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Margaret Hart Ferraro (September 28, 1913 – January 30, 2000), better known as Margie Hart, was a New York City stripteaser, in American burlesque theatre.


Hart was born on September 28, 1913 in Edgerton, Missouri. Originally born Margaret Bridget Bryan and was one of eight children. She left home aged 16, then studied "exotic dancing" once she was of age in St. Louis. She married John Ferraro, the Los Angeles City Council president, in 1982. Hart suffered an aneurysm and a stroke not long after their marriage. In the 1990s her health declined quickly until she later died at 86 years old in Los Angeles on January 30, 2000.[1][2]

Trial for indecency[edit]

Hart was one of three burlesque dancers who performed at Minsky's Burlesque in April 1935, who were arrested for giving an indecent performance. Hart, 21, who resided at the Hotel Forrest in Manhattan, New York, was taken into custody along with Toots Brawner, 22, of the Dixie Hotel, and Gladys McCormick, 24, of 229 West 49th Street. The three pleaded not guilty and were each held in $500 bail. Jack Keller, 22, of Thayer Street, and Edward Goodman, 27, of 209 West 42nd Street (Manhattan) were arrested along with the dancers. Keller, a stage manager, was charged with permitting an indecent performance. Goodman was assistant manager of the Republic Theatre.[3] The men were held in $500 bail pending a hearing on April 16, 1935.[4]

Hart, Brawner, McCormick, and three other chorus girls were arraigned in West Side Court but were freed by Magistrate Guy Van Amringe, who presided in Commercial Frauds Court, on May 7, 1935. Keller was detained in bail fixed at $500, as was Goodman, pending a trial date. Along with them, Van Amringe ordered detained Edward Rowland, assistant manager of the Gaiety Theatre, New York, 1539 Broadway (Manhattan).[3]

Burlesque banished[edit]

Hart's arrest coincided with a 1935 citizen's groups campaign in New York City, calling for action against burlesque. Paul Moss, license commissioner, hoped to revoke Minsky's license. He was unsuccessful when the New York State Court of Appeals ruled he needed a conviction to revoke the club's license. Finally, in April 1937, one of Minsky's dancers was observed performing without a G-string. Moss then acted to shut down Minsky's and its rivals. Following several appeals the Minskys and their burlesque competitors were allowed to reopen, but only if they did not allow strippers to perform. The businesses went along with this, hoping that burlesque might return following the November 1937 election. However, reformist mayor Fiorello LaGuardia, was returned to office, and the Minskys and their rivals were closed again.[5]

In 1942 Isidore Herk and the Shubert brothers co-produced a Broadway show called Wine, Women and Song, starring Jimmy Savo and Margie Hart. The show was advertised as a combination of vaudeville, burlesque and Broadway revue, and ran for seven weeks.[6] The revue included striptease, which shocked some of the audiences.[7] Wine, Women and Song was closed by court order in December 1942.[8]


  1. ^ Douglas Martin (journalist) (2000-01-30). "Margaret Hart Ferraro, Burlesque Queen, Dies". The New York Times. Retrieved 2007-08-21. Mrs. Ferraro won fame under the name Margie Hart, and was billed as the poor man's Garbo. A line in the song Zip! in Lorenz Hart's Pal Joey refers to her: Who the hell is Margie Hart? Danny Kaye immortalized her in a song that talked about farmers who 'used to utterly utter when Margie Hart churned her butter.' ...
  2. ^ "Margie Hart". IMDb. Retrieved 2017-10-03.
  3. ^ a b Burlesque Girls Freed, New York Times, May 8, 1935, pg. 22.
  4. ^ Court Upholds Nudity, New York Times, April 17, 1935, pg. 17.
  5. ^ Morton Minsky Is Dead At 85, The New York Times, March 24, 1987, p. B6.
  6. ^ Stewart, Donald Travis (2014). "Barons of Burlesque: Isidore H. "Izzie" Herk". Retrieved 2014-05-24.
  7. ^ Shteir, Rachel (2004-11-01). Striptease : The Untold History of the Girlie Show: The Untold History of the Girlie Show. Oxford University Press. p. 228. ISBN 978-0-19-802935-9. Retrieved 2014-05-14.
  8. ^ "Isadore H. Herk". Billboard: 31. 15 July 1944. Retrieved 2014-05-24.