The biggest thing in Chicago in 1933 and 1934 was the World's Fair, called Century of Progress. And the most-talked about attraction — at the fair and in the city's nightclubs — was fan dancer Sally Rand, who may or may not have performed in the nude. She generated more heat than anything Chicago had experienced since the famous fire in 1871.

The illusion of nudity was real enough to get Sally Rand arrested. Incredibly, four of those arrests were made on the same day. Helping to create the illusion, at least for one of her performances, was Max Factor, a native of Poland who had made a name for himself in Hollywood as the leading make-up artist for movie stars. He developed his own line of cosmetics and soon was more famous than many of the stars who used his products.

(Meanwhile, Factor's brother, Jake, a Chicago con man, made headlines in 1933 when his son was kidnapped, and later when Jake was kidnapped, though police suspect Jake Factor masterminded both abductions for self-serving reasons.)

In what must have been a publicity stunt, Factor applied some of his cream to Sally Rand's body, and even members of the orchestra, the closest people to Rand during a performance, swore that the cream was the only thing she was wearing, though it's likely there also was a flesh-colored outfit, no matter how skimpy, covering strategic parts of her body.

It was interesting how Rand captured most of the publicity when there were other women performing in some of the fair's midway attractions who were unquestionably doing it in the nude — until police cracked down.

Sally Rand's legal troubles, such as they were, generated the publicity she craved and briefly fanned hopes of reviving a movie career she had started in the 1920s.

Buffalo Courier Express, September 24

CHICAGO, Illinois (Chicago Tribune) — Sally Rand, the fan dancer, was found guilty last night of willfully performing an obscene and indecent dance in a place by a jury of twelve men, most of them young. She was sentenced by Municipal Judge Joseph H. McGarry to one year in the county jail and a $200 fine.

It is a maximum penalty, the court being enabled by the statute to have imposed punishment of from one day to one year in the house of correction or county jail, or a fine of from $25 to $200, or both.

The jury considered the verdict for one hour and fifteen minutes. Judge McGarry then awaited the dancer’s return from a performance of her fan dance in a loop theater. Samuel Berke, defense attorney, made a motion for a new trial and asked that he be given ten minutes to prepare arguments on it.

Judge McGarry, declaring that his instructions to the jury, which he had selected, clearly favored the defendant, ruled against the new trial.

A stay of 60 days was allowed by the court in which to file a bill of exceptions. Miss Rand was released on cash bonds of $2,000.

Miss Rand, resting wearily on a court bench after the proceedings, while her bond was being arranged, pointed out that she was receiving a sentence twice as long as that ordinarily given public enemies in the recent drive to convict them on the so-called criminal reputation law.

“If the jury is right, and the dance I do actually is indecent, and the court is right in sentencing me to a year in jail,” she said, “all I can say is that everyone who is engaged in sculpturing, painting, music or dancing ought to quit.”

Miss Rand, who told the Junior Association of Commerce here recently that she “hasn’t been out of a job since she took her pants off,” broke existing variety house records when she started her eighth week at the Chicago theater yesterday. She has also been appearing at nightclubs and at the World’s Fair.

Hordes of fan dancers have followed in the wake of her revival of this old time stag show feature, so that practically every nightclub in the city boasts at least one fan, shawl or handkerchief dancer now.

Sally Rand appealed — and her conviction was overturned.

She was 29 years old in 1933, still perhaps the most attractive woman in her particular line of work. Unlike other burlesque queens, Sally Rand had a movie career before she started dancing with fans.

She'd made more than 20 silent films. Among them: "The Night of Love" (1927) with Ronald Colman and Vilma Banky; "A Woman Against the World" (1928) and "Golf Widows" (1928) starring the original Harrison Ford; "A Girl in Every Port" (1928) with Victor McLaglen and Louise Brooks, and the original "Getting Gertie's Garter" (1927). Dennis O'Keefe and Marie "The Body" McDonald starred in the 1945 remake.

(McDonald is a whole other story. She died of a pill overdose when she was 42. She married seven times, twice to Harry Karl, who later married Debbie Reynolds.)

Two years after the Chicago World's Fair, Sally Rand appeared on stage as Sadie Thompson in "Rain," opposite Humphrey Bogart. In 1938, she made her last film, "Sunset Murder Case."

Unfortunately, no acting jobs awaited after 1938, and she continued doing her fan dance for many years, and in the 1960s filled in for Ann Corio in the traveling show, "This Was Burlesque."

Married four times, Sally Rand was single again when she died of congestive heart failure in 1979. She was 75 years old.