January 14, 1985: NY Times obit of one of the stars of The Jewel Box.
LYNNE CARTER, IMPERSONATOR Lynne Carter, a female impersonator, died of pneumonia in Memorial Hospital for Cancer and Allied Diseases Friday. He was 60 years old and lived in Manhattan.
Frank Corradino, Mr. Carter's stage manager and dresser for many years, said yesterday that the 'underlying cause of death was acquired immune deficiency syndrome - AIDS.'
Billed as 'Mr. Lynne Carter,' Mr. Carter began his career as Hildegarde at a Halloween Party in Cleveland shortly after he left the navy following World War II. His final appearances were in 'Hooray for Hollywood,' a revue at the St. Regis-Sheraton Hotel last January.
In 1971, he became the first female impersonator to star in a concert at Carnegie Hall. Among his favorite subjects were Pearl Bailey, Marlene Dietrich, Bette Davis, Mae West, Hermione Gingold, Phyllis Diller and Eartha Kitt. Kay Thompson's threats to sue redounded to Mr. Carter's benefit and helped establish his career in Los Angeles. He believed that contemporary women were not so mimicable as their predecessors. He said Jane Fonda and Raquel Welch, for example, have no spectacular mannerisms that can be copied.
Encouraged by Pearl Bailey
Mr. Carter credited Pearl Bailey with launching his career after she saw him do an impression of her in a Chicago club. She gave him encouragement, copies of her arrangements and a wardrobe. Later, Josephine Baker gave him three taxicabs full of Balenciaga and Dior gowns and tutored him in phonetic French.
He appeared primarily in clubs and cabarets and was in the 1970 movie 'The Man from O.R.G.Y.' and Off Broadway in 'Jewel Box Revue,' in 1958, and 'Fun City,' a revue, in 1968.
He said in a 1971 interview: 'I much prefer being a man. Women have to spend so much time pulling themselves together, and their shoes kill your feet. I know. And they don't have the freedom that men do. I can walk into this place, and that place, and go anywhere I want to, where women can't.'
Critics attributed his success to his ability to give his characterizations authenticity and depth as well as humor.
There are no survivors.
A memorial service will be held Jan. 21, at 11:30 A.M. at Frank E. Campbell's Funeral Chapel, 1076 Madison Avenue, at 81st Street.