From Midway to Mainstage: Dallas Striptease 1946-1960


Kelly Clayton

Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)



Date of Award

Spring 2019


The entertainment landscape of post-World War II Dallas, Texas included striptease in different types of venues. Travelling and local striptease acts performed at the city's annual fair and in several nightclubs in the city. In the late 1940s, the fair featured striptease as the headlining act, and one of the city's newspapers, the Dallas Morning News, described the dancers as the most popular attraction of the largest fair in the United States. Further, the newspaper reporting congratulated the men who ran the fair for providing Texans with these popular entertainment options. The dancers who performed at the fair also showcased their talents at area nightclubs to mixed gender audiences. Dallas welcomed striptease as an acceptable form of entertainment. However, in the early 1950s, the tone and tenor of the striptease coverage changed. The State Fair of Texas executives decried striptease as “soiled” and low-class. Dancers performed in nightclubs, but the newspaper began to report on one particular entertainer, Candy Barr, and her many tangles with law enforcement. Barr, a popular striptease dancer, became the face of vice in Dallas, as the newspaper reported on her criminal activity. In ten years, descriptions of dancers in the newspaper reporting changed from celebrated to sleazy. This thesis reviews these changes in concert with those power brokers in the city who directed them. Striptease's reputation in Dallas became a casualty of a growing religious and political fervor, McCarthyism, which defined patriotism through a specific lens. As space constricted, and striptease left high visibility venues, it became synonymous with wickedness.


Jessica Brannon-Wranosky

Subject Categories

Arts and Humanities | History