Jan Welles Stardust Girl: A Memoir

ISBN 13: 9781555836276

Stardust Girl: A Memoir

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9781555836276: Stardust Girl: A Memoir
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The true story of a popular singer who broke all the rules and paid the ultimate price.

A stunning, velvety-voiced crooner who drew raves from Walter Winchell and Cole Porter, Jan Welles was perched on the brink of stardom, when she faced an impossible choice: deny her lesbianism or abandon the career she had worked a lifetime to achieve. Ranging from the dazzling lights of Broadway to dusty bullfighting rings in the Dominican Republic, flings with Lana Turner and Paulette Goddard to an attempted rape by Broadway impresario Billy Rose, Jan Welles's tale is a saucy story of achievement, danger, and the ultimate triumph of being true to yourself.

Jan Welles was a singer for RKO records and was a regular on The Arthur Godfrey Show, where she was known as the Stardust Girl, as well as on The Steve Allen Show. She was also the first woman bullfighter in Mexico. She now lives in Louisville, Kentucky.

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About the Author:

Jan Welles was a singer for RKO records and was a regular on The Arthur Godfrey Show, where she was known as the Stardust Girl, as well as on The Steve Allen Show. She was also the first woman bullfighter in Mexico. Her singing career ended when she refused to lie about her sexuality. She now lives in Louisville, Ky.

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Introduction
From Broadway to the Bullring: A Toast to Our Stardust Girl

Never heard of Jan Welles before? You'll be glad you did. She's a dyke to watch out for--tough, gorgeous, tender, and honest. Her story takes us inside the world of show business--the business there's no business like--and back to a time (the 1940s and '50s) when celebrities were even deeper in the closet than they are now.

In bouffant hair and Cinderella gown, you could see Jan every day on Arthur Godfrey's CBS morning show when the Old Redhead was the biggest thing in TV. She was his Stardust Girl--a tremendous voice with range and style who'd won his prestigious Talent Scouts Show. It wasn't an overnight success. Jan had been singing professionally since she was 16, playing club after club in city after city, entertaining troops everywhere during the war.

But Jan Welles had a big secret. She was gay; she'd loved women since she was a kid in Pittsburgh and had always found plenty of them to love on the cabaret circuit. Leggy chorines, girl singers with the big bands, movie stars she met in plush New York apartments--they all pegged Jan for a butch under the makeup and frilly dresses and invited her up for a drink. She didn't disappoint.

South of the Border she was a smash hit too--with customers and women. In Mexico she made it with one of Hollywood's biggest and brightest and gained more insight into the showbiz code. Everybody did pretty much what they pleased in bed, and the public was none the wiser. But if a producer, director, or any other old boy in power asked for a little nooky, a girl had to put out or forget about stardom. As Jan's famous female Acapulco one-night stand advised: "It goes with the profession."

Like all performers, Jan wanted to get ahead, but there she drew the line. Though she cultivated a girly look onstage, offstage she never denied her preference for women and never played the old boys' game. Even when that meant no Broadway debut and no $25,000 a week contract in Vegas. Maybe that's why you've never heard of her till now.

But Mexico changed her life in other ways. On a lark she accepted the challenge of the bullring--because it was, she said, a rare moment when that butchy person inside her could come out in public. She was a natural. "°OlÈ! °Torera!" skeptical aficionados cheered when she fought brave bulls. And you too will cheer her passionate descriptions of hot blood staining blistering sand, even if she didn't like killing the bull (and she didn't).

So here she is, ladies and gents, our Stardust Girl in her "suit of lights." A toast to a long and glorious career of defiance, and to many more years of happiness with her girlhood sweetheart! For all gay people, that kind of happiness is the best revenge. As they say in Mexico, Jan, Salud, pesetas y amor, y tiempo para gozarlos. Good health, wealth, and love, and time to enjoy them.

Lisa E. Davis
New York City, 2001

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