This gender bending performer is one we are presenting in a series to celebrate NYC Pride Week.
Bobby Kimber (Ronald Victor Kimberly, 1918-1993) was a female impersonator and ventriloquist popular in British music hall from the 1930s through the 1960s. He wore his hair long like a woman’s, and never divulged his biological gender one way or the other to the audience. The story of Bobby’s gender identity appears to be extremely complicated. Married, and the father of a daughter, he appears to have begun representing himself as a woman when he began performing in 1937, because there were almost no female vents working at the time, hence he got less competition. Yet, according to fellow performers, he played the woman offtstage as well, and the public didn’t know he was biologically male until 1952. You will be a very good article about this fascinating person, and a bit of heated controversy in the comments sections here: http://zagria.blogspot.com/2008/09/bobbie-kimber-1918-ventriloquist.html#.UcIbEOc4vew
To find out about the history of vaudeville, consult No Applause, Just Throw Money: The Book That Made Vaudeville Famous, available at Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and wherever nutty books are sold.
And check out my new book: Chain of Fools: Silent Comedy and Its Legacies from Nickelodeons to Youtube, just released by Bear Manor Media, also available from amazon.com etc etc etc