Carol Doda, Legendary San Francisco Stripper Who Helped Introduce Topless Entertainment, Dies at 78

Legendary stripper and performer Carol Doda, who helped introduce topless entertainment more than 50 years ago, has died at age 78.

Friend Ron Minolla says she died Monday in San Francisco of complications related to kidney failure.

Doda went topless in 1964 at the Condor Club and soon changed every nightspot on busy Broadway. She left the club in 1985 and later owned a lingerie store.

Doda, known for her augmented bust, rode onto stage atop a piano on an elevator platform, debuting the same day President Lyndon B. Johnson drew half a million people in a visit to San Francisco. It wasn't long before the big news in town was "The Girl on the Piano."

An illuminated sign on the club in Doda's likeness later became a landmark.

Anthony Giannini, the owner of Café Union, which is around the corner from where Doda’s lingerie shop used to be, said Doda sat in the same chair for lunch almost every day for 20 years. "We would talk about the day and feed her," he said. "It’s sad to see her go."

And, while many remember her as a well-endowed entertainer who revolutionized the city’s nightclub scene, the people who knew her best say San Francisco is mourning the loss of one of its best.

"There’s nobody that didn’t know her, care about her," Giannini said. "She was a great person."

Doda used to sing at Tupelo in North Beach. Friends are planning a private memorial to be held there sometime in the next few weeks.

Copyright AP - Associated Press
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