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Bawdy and risque, the comedy of Rusty Warren was daring and revolutionary; one of the few successful female performers in a business historically dominated by men, Warren pushed the envelope further by dealing explicitly with sex, a taboo topic for any mainstream comic of the 1950s and '60s regardless of gender.
Born Ilene Goldman in New York in 1931, she was raised in Milton, MA, and after graduating from the New England Conservatory of Music in 1952, she became a teacher. On the advice of a boyfriend, Warren spent a summer performing in a piano lounge in upstate New York; she immediately fell in love with show business and never returned to academia. Her explicit style began to develop soon after, influenced by underground recordings by Sophie Tucker and Ruth Wallis.
After signing to the Jubilee label, Warren issued her debut record, Songs for Sinners, in 1959. While performing in Toledo, OH later that year, she introduced her trademark number, "Knockers Up," a call for women to shed their sexual inhibitions. Her next LP, also dubbed Knockers Up!, followed in 1960; the album became a surprise word-of-mouth smash, reaching the Top Ten and remaining on the charts for over three years. Overnight, Warren became a notorious figure, the queen of the party records; Sin-Sational! and Rusty Warren Bounces Back, both issued in 1961, hit the Top 40, and a fervent cult following emerged.
1962's Rusty Warren in Orbit was another Top 40 success, but like many comedians, Warren's career faltered in the wake of the cultural shifts brought on by the assassination of John F. Kennedy; after 1963's Banned in Boston?, only 1966's More Knockers Up!, a return to past glories, managed to chart. Still, Warren remained a fixture of the club circuit, occasionally issuing new material like Sexplosion. She continued actively performing in subsequent years, and even issued Knockers Up '76 in celebration of the nation's bicentennial. After reaching the age of 60, Warren retired, but occasionally returned to the club stage for tributes and benefit performances.
Rusty Warren (born March 20, 1930) is an American comedian and musician, specializing in sex-related themes and such songs as "Bounce Your Boobies".Some sources have incorrectly cited March 17, 1930 or March 17, 1931 as Warren's date of birth "Ilene F Goldman in household of Herbert Goldman, "United States Census, 1940", giving age as 10 in 1940 census; accessed May 14, 2014. "Life of the Party". Las Vegas Review-Journal. November 15, 2009. McLellan, Dennis (July 16, 1992). "'PRETTY RELATABLE STUFF': Carol Leifer Tells Jokes She Hopes People Can Identify With". The Los Angeles Times. Vineyard, Jennifer (April 4, 2014). "Bette Midler on Soph, Janis Joplin, and Her Early Years in New York City". K. Arnold, Thomas (March 1, 1988). "Dr. Demento to Make San Diego House Call". The Los Angeles Times.
Warren was born in New York City in 1930 and adopted six months later by Helen and Herbert Goldman, a couple from Milton, Massachusetts, who named her Ilene Goldman. She graduated from Milton High School in or around 1948, studied piano at the New England Conservatory of Music, graduating around 1954. She spent her first free summer entertaining in small lounges, and later taught there briefly after obtaining her degree. Her musical mentor at the time was Arthur Fiedler, who was the conductor of the Boston Pops.
She recorded for Jubilee Records, then GNP Crescendo Records which reissued some of her earlier Jubilee albums. Known as the Knockers Up Gal, she has frequently been called the mother of the sexual revolution. Her career began in the early 1950s in Phoenix, Arizona. Later she moved her act to Las Vegas, Nevada. Her comedy routines exposed the subject of sex from a female perspective. Her most famous contribution to the sexual revolution was the song "Knockers Up" from the 1960 album of the same name.Cite error: The named reference LVR was invoked but never defined (see the help page). New interview with Rusty Warren, classicshowbiz.blogspot.com, July 2010; accessed November 20, 2014.
Warren produced a DVD that chronicles her life in show business. The DVD, Rusty Warren: Knockers Up! The Lady Behind the Laughs, was released by GNP Crescendo in 2008.