Evelyn “Treasure Chest” West: a page from a vintage press book for the film A Night at the Follies.
Evelyn was born Amy May Coomer in a poor farming community in Kentucky. Her parent divorced when she was young, and Evelyn moved to Illinois with her mother. Evelyn moved west and began her burlesque career in San Francisco after WWII. In the early 1950s, she met and married club promoter Al Charles, and with Al’s help, Evelyn’s career really took off (no pun intended). She was originally billed as “The Sweater Girl” or “The Hubba Hubba Girl”, but in a brilliant publicity stunt she had her bosom insured with Lloyd’s of London for $50,000. Hence forth, she would be known as Evelyn “$50,000 Treasure Chest” West.
Incidentally, Leazar ‘Baby’ Scruggs, an African American burlesque dancer had a Lloyd’s of London insurance policy on her bosom that pre-dated Evelyn’s by several years. Baby Scruggs, however, was never a nationally known dancer in the US, probably due to racial segregation in the 1940s. In the early 1950s, Ms. Scruggs went to England to perform and quickly became a dance sensation.