A Blaze of…Charity?

The University Archives notes the passing of Blaze Starr, an iconic Maryland figure who once had a very interesting connection with the university. Miss Starr died on June 15, and you can find her obituary here: http://www.nytimes.com/2015/06/16/us/blaze-starr-burlesque-stripper-linked-to-a-governor-dies-at-83.html?mwrsm=Email&_r=0.

We reprise the story of Blaze and the residents of Dorchester Hall here, from a blog post originally published on Terrapin Tales in 2013.

Everyone participates in raffles at some point, whether for small door prizes or new cars.

But back in May of 1969, according to the student newspaper the Diamondback, a couple of industrious UMD students thought they’d offer something unique.

What the gentlemen of Dorchester Hall offered was an evening’s entertainment—with the famous (or infamous) Blaze Starr.

Blaze Starr
Blaze Starr–click HERE to read the Diamondback article from May 2 1969.

Starr had long been a stripper and burlesque dancer, starting in Baltimore in 1950. By 1969 she had gained national notoriety as the long-time mistress of the former Governor of Louisiana, Earl K. Long, and had returned to Baltimore, where she danced at the Two O’Clock Club, which she owned.

The Dorchester Hall raffle was part of the campus’ Ugly Man on Campus Contest, which raised money for charity. Each organization or group put forth their “Ugly Man,” and people voted with their money. The “Man” (a student made up to look horrible) responsible for ‘earning’ the most money got a night on the town, and their sponsoring group won bragging rights. The money went to local charities around College Park.

Ugly Man on Campus, 1954
Ugly Man on Campus, 1954

And the winners of the raffle? “Free champagne and a stage show for himself and a guest at his convenience.”  Unfortunately, we have not discovered if the raffle was successful, or if the prize was ever redeemed.


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