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 Bee C. Palmer

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Bee C. Palmer

  • Original Name Beatrice
  • Birth 11 Sep 1894 Chicago, Cook County, Illinois, USA
  • Death 22 Dec 1967 New York, New York County (Manhattan), New York, USA
  • Burial Calumet Park, Cook County, Illinois, USA
  • Memorial ID 44757058

Entertainer. She was a singer, dancer, and songwriter who styled herself "The Shimmy Queen". Born Beatrice C. Palmer, she was raised in Chicago, the child of Swedish immigrants, and got her start in show business performing at local bars and clubs; moving to New York, Bee made her Ziegfield Follies debut on July 15, 1918, in "Ziegfield's Midnight Frolic", singing to her own piano accompaniment. By 1918, she was also performing as a dancer, calling herself the inventor of the "shimmy" (oddly, she said that she had learned the moves as a youngster, dancing for her mother's friends), though others were to claim the same distinction. In November, 1920, Bee had started her own touring review, "Oh Bee"; though her troupe at times included some future legends, such as horn-player Bix Beiderbecke and clarinetist Leon Roppolo, reviews were mixed, financial problems were frequent, and numerous ministers and teachers attacked her dancing as obscene. (Sometimes called a "stripper", she never was). On March 3, 1921, Bee married pianist Al Siegel in a secret ceremony performed by a judge at the Masonic Hall in Davenport, Iowa. Having formed "Bee Palmer's New Orleans Rhythm Kings", she continued touring for awhile, but was soon back in New York performing for Ziegfield. In October, 1921, Siegel sued boxing champion Jack Dempsey over an alleged affair with Bee; Dempsey denied the charges, and the matter was dropped, but that same month Bee and Siegel sued each other for divorce. The union, however, was to endure for seven more years, with numerous break-ups and make-ups. Thru the 1920s, Bee was to be a Broadway regular, getting good reviews for "Midnight Frolic of 1921" and "Passing Show of 1924", playing multiple venues, and performing with the lead musicians of the time. In 1928, Bee appeared at Carnegie Hall with Paul Whiteman; that same year, Bee and Siegel finally split for good, with the pianist soon taking up with a then-unknown Ether Merman. Bee was given a co-composer credit for the 1930 standard "Please Don't Talk About Me When I'm Gone"; her image appears on a fair amount of sheet music of the day, but how much she actually wrote, or whether publishers were simply using her looks to enhance sales, is a matter of conjecture. In the late 1920s and early 1930s, Bee participated in several recording sessions, with the discs remaining difficult, but possible, to find. By 1933, Bee was back in Chicago with her parents; in December of that year she wed pianist Jack Fina (sometimes rendered Finna) in Waukegan, Illinois. But by then Vaudeville and shimmy dancing were out of fashion, and Bee essentially faded from view. She is thought to have died of cancer, and is said to have retained much of her beauty to the end.

Bio by: Bob Hufford


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  • Maintained by: Find A Grave
  • Originally Created by: Bob Hufford
  • Added: 24 Nov 2009
  • Find A Grave Memorial 44757058
  • Find A Grave, database and images (https://www.findagrave.com : accessed ), memorial page for Bee C. Palmer (11 Sep 1894–22 Dec 1967), Find A Grave Memorial no. 44757058, citing Cedar Park Cemetery, Calumet Park, Cook County, Illinois, USA ; Maintained by Find A Grave .