In the late 1940s, burlesque dancer Barbara Yung had one of the most popular acts on the Chinatown nightclub scene. Barbara’s three decade career began on the west coast in the Bay area where she was a popular feature in many of the San Francisco Chinatown nightclubs. Not limited to Chinatown or the West Coast, Barbara would dance in cubs across the United States including Dallas, New Orleans, and Hawaii. Her first big dancing break came at Peter DeCenzie’s El Rey Burlesk in Oakland. Ms Yung also worked with Sinatra as one of his six “Chinese Dancers” in Pal Joey. In 1953, she helped open the Capitol Theater in Portland and in 2011 Barbara was honored at the Legend of the Year by the Burlesque Hall of Fame.
Soft Film recently blogged about Yung and also dug up these tidbits from the Oakland Tribune’s “Going Places” gossip column:
“Barbara looks very much like something you might see in Terry and the Pirates. Tall, shapely as a Varga girl, and dances beautifully to music like “Rhapsody in Blue” and other intricate symphonic arrangements.” (June 11, 1949)
“Barbara Yung is one of the cleverest tall, willowy dancers in show business today. Quite rare to see a Chinese girl with her elevation. Her routines these eves at Fong Wan’s Club Oakland are sophisticated yet quite artistic.” (June 25, 1949)
Barbara made her own costumes and was “something of an outstanding couturier when it comes to sequin needlework” (October 15, 1949).
Sukki Singapora’s tribute to Barbara Yung: