Sunday, 22 January 2012

Harem dancers: Rosemarie Bowe

What peplum means to me

"Peplum" is a word that has been cropping up on the fashion pages with boring regularity at the moment - it's that weird, stiff frill whovawotsit that now adorns the hips of every fashion victim teetering down the high street. (Of course, 15 years ago I was one of those people who teamed Doc Marten boots with second-hand men's trousers and topped if off with Nana's old lace-edged polyester slip, so what the hell do I know about how to dress?)

However, I am not the only one to whom "peplum" means something else entirely. The more eagle-eyed among you may have noticed the appearance of the "Peplum TV" gadget on this blog a couple of months ago. This comes courtesy of the quite frankly mind-meltingly sutpendous blog Peplums, which is dedicated to a genre often dismissed as "swords and sandals". But peplum is a lot more than swords and sandals. Often it's also magic, and monsters, and evil kings, and wicked queens, and political intrigue. And, most importantly, pulchritudinous women dancing.

Those of you familiar with The Occidental Dancer's preoccupations with colossal squids and pretty ladies getting their groove on in old films will appreciate why peplum, with its chiffon-clad lovelies and abundance of sea monsters menacing sailors, strikes such a chord. It seems mad that I didn't discover Peplums ages ago, but it's where I found today's clip. Obviously, the guy who writes Peplums isn't so interested in the dancers themselves so I had to do a bit of digging as to who she is. Hopefully I've got it right! Ladies and gentlemen, I'm almost certain that today's post features the lovely Rosemarie Bowe.

Rosemarie didn't have much of a career to speak of - she appeared in bit-parts in a handful of films - and got into movies via modelling. According to scuttlebutt, she wasn't overly gifted in the brains and talent department, so that may have had something to do with her lack of real roles.

Her life post-acting was marred by a series of personal setbacks - her husband, Unsolved Mysteries host Robert Stack, died in 2003 (they had been married 47 years, surely a Hollywood record?), and in 1970 Bowe suffered serious internal injuries in a car accident.

In happier times, here she is as 'Ayesha' in one of the least fluid, most stilted examples of harem dancing (what I call the 'not belly dancing-belly dance' that appears in so many of these films) I've ever seen. What sets this apart from the majority of these harem dances is that she's using zills. Digging that 'upcycled curtains' costume!

Adventures of Hajji Baba (1954)

1 comment:

  1. Never heard of Rosemarie Bowe before yesterday... She was striking! And 47 years does seem like a record. Love Robert Stack, too.