"The Original Hubba-Hubba Girl" | "$50K Treasure Chest"
Evelyn West was born Amy May Coomer, in Adair County, Kentucky to Henderson and Annie Coomer who resided in the poor farming community of Elroy, Adair County, Kentucky. Annie and Amy moved to Illinois after the divorce of her parents where her mother married Curtis Hinds of Petersburg, Illinois, where Amy grew up on a farm. Her two brothers, many years older than Amy remained in Kentucky however with their father.
Evelyn West was best known for her large (39½ inch) bust line and publicity stunts. Evelyn is the girl generally credited with making burlesque bust- conscious. Before, she entered the strip tease picture, burlesque movements emphasized a sexy walk with
the bumps and grinds. Relatively little importance had been attached to an eye-stopping bosom. Altho typical of the female strippers, mainly for publicity but also a real worry of Breast cancer ... She was reported to have insured her breasts for A WHOPPING $50,000 U.S. dollars through Lloyd's of London which now allowed her the moniker of the "$50K Treasure Chest."
Amy started working at the Illinois State Fair in a sideshow. Her Burlesque career was not recognized until she was seen in a 1940's newspaper clipping for a performance in Calumet City. During World War Two, Amy and her mother, Annie came to Sacramento, California. Amy went to work at Mather Army Air Field. After World War II, she got a Burlesque job stripping at the President's Club on Market Street in San Francisco. In 1947, she made the film "A Night at the Follies" in Los Angeles. She left California for Missouri. Quite the comedienne, she would often quip to her audience "I know you're looking at my shoes."
Like most of the more famous Strippers of her time Evelyn was an ardent publicity seeker who even went so far as to try and legally change her name to Evelyn "$50,000 Treasure Chest" West at the Menard County Circuit Court (which I believe she succeeded in doing). She was no stranger to confrontation either as one time she threw a tomato at rival Anita Ekberg, threatened legal action against contemporaries Tempest Storm and Jane Russell, and openly criticized Marilyn Monroe (stating that "Marilyn's much-vaunted shape is as phony as her yearning for the Karamazov brothers.") and Jayne Mansfield ("As far as Jayne is concerned, she is way down from her erstwhile 38 bosom ... and Marilyn is about four inches removed from the 36 they claim for her.")
Evelyn would make appearances at nudist colonies and nudist weddings where she served as a bridesmaid in Denver and actually wore a sign reading "Park your fig leaves upstairs" she became quite active in the nudist community and later became a member of the "American Sunbathing Association" nudists. And what publicity seeking stripper would not be charged with indecent exposure (and Exhibition) in her time and Evelyn was no exception. In 1954, the association expelled her from the group.
West was widely photographed and depicted in many mens magazines, pinup calendars and artwork. A couple examples of those who took Evelyn's picture are photographer/former model Bunny Yeager and fellow West Coast Swing Dancer "Tom Kelley" (Tom rose to fame for his Marilyn Monroe Photo's). Her only known film credits are "A Night at the Follies (1947) and appeared uncredited as "the cook" in 1940 in Rhythm on the River and as "woman in theater" in Birth of the Blues. In her act she used a dummy of "Esky" the mascot of Esquire magazine as her pseudo lover. By the 50s, Amy had married club promoter, Al Charles. They had no children together.
In 1981 when she was nearly Sixty years old she was approached to come out of retirement, but declined the offer. Evelyn West died as Amy Charles in 2004 in Florida.