Photographs, clippings, programs, correspondence, lyrics, music, costumes with accessories, audio and video recordings, and
souvenirs from the life and performances of Charles Pierce (1926-1999), impressionist and comedian, one of the foremost American
female impersonators of the second half of the 20th century. The bulk of materials date from 1970-1990.
Charles Pierce, impressionist and comedian, was one of the foremost American female impersonators in the second half of the
20th century. Born in Watertown, New York, on July 14, 1926, he started his acting career at the Pasadena Playhouse in the
early 1950s. During this period, he was inspired by several nightclub acts in Los Angeles to develop his own act. His first
professional performance was at Café La Vie in Altadena, California, in 1954. Because of laws against cross-dressing, Pierce
performed in a tuxedo with accessories such as a boa, hats, and pocketbooks. It was not until ten years after he began his
career that Pierce donned full female costumes, reflecting changes in legislation that had made such acts legal. Pierce had
lengthy and celebrated engagements at various venues including the Plush Room in San Francisco's York Hotel in the early 1980s,
and engagements at San Francisco's Fairmont Hotel's Venetian Room and New York's Top of the Gate and The Ballroom. His portrayals
included Tallulah Bankhead, Carol Channing, Joan Crawford, Bette Davis, Katharine Hepburn, Gloria Swanson, and Mae West. He
appeared on numerous television shows (not always in drag), including Fame, Laverne and Shirley, Designing Women, Starsky & Hutch, and Love, American Style. His films include Rabbit Test (1978), Torch Song Trilogy (1988), and Nerds of a Feather (1990). He also issued several recordings, including Live at Bimbo's (circa 1972) on the Blue Thumb label, and a video, Charles
Pierce at The Ballroom (1988). He died in North Hollywood, California, on May 31, 1999, at the age of 72.
Researchers wishing to publish materials must obtain permission in writing from ONE National Gay and Lesbian Archives as the
physical owner. Researchers must also obtain clearance from the holder(s) of any copyrights in the materials. Note that ONE
National Gay and Lesbian Archives can grant copyright clearance only for those materials for which we hold the copyright.
It is the responsibility of the researcher to obtain copyright clearance for all other materials directly from the copyright