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Carol Doda Dead: Renowned San Francisco Stripper Dies At 78

Wed, November 11, 2015 8:51pm EDT by Beth Shilliday Add first Comment
Carol Doda Dead
Courtesy Rex Features

It’s a dark day for stripper poles everywhere, with the news that pioneering exotic dancer Carol Doda has passed away at age 78. Her topless act debuted in San Francisco back in 1964 and paved the way for many burlesque and gentlemen’s clubs in decades to come.

Sad news! Legendary stripper Carol Doda has died at the age of 78. Her groundbreaking topless act at San Francisco’s Condor Club introduced exotic entertainment to the city over 50 years ago, and paved the way for strip clubs everywhere. A family friend reveals that she died on Nov. 9 from complications of kidney failure. Rest in peace Carol!

Carol became famous for her wildly popular topless dance act that showed off her 44-inch silicone breasts, which became known as “The new Twin Peaks of San Francisco.” Her performances transformed busy Broadway in the city’s North Beach section for 20 years to come, with more than two dozen topless clubs opening after Carol’s trailblazing act caught on fire.

“When the (beatniks) were handing the torch to the hippies, a girl named Carol Doda changed the world from a pole at the corner of Columbus Avenue and Broadway,” her friend Lee Housekeeper told the Santa Rosa Press Democrat. In her act, the busty blonde rode onto stage atop a grand piano via a hydraulic elevator platform, soon making a name for herself around San Francisco as “The Girl on the Piano.” Within a decade, she ditched her topless bikini act altogether and performed completely in the nude!

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She went on to forge a career as a local Bay Area television host, as well as opening lingerie shop named “Carol Doda’s Champagne and Lace Lingerie Boutique.” A billboard bearing her larger-than-life image still hangs above the Condor Club on Broadway even to this day. Carol was and always will be a true icon for the City by the Bay.

Our thoughts go out to Carol’s family and friends in the sad news of her passing.

— Beth Shilliday