Burlesque Advertisement Prompts Lawsuit

The March 1936 ad that caused the controversy.On March 11, 1936,the Greensboro Daily News ran a racy ad for a burlesque show that was appearing for two days in town. Pictured in the ad were two scantily clad young women, one of whom was Winston-Salem native Nancy Flake. While she was not identified by name in the ad, the young radio entertainer and big band vocalist was hurt and embarrassed by the improper use of the photograph that had been taken by Columbia Broadcasting Company for their advertising use.

When the image was run in the newspaper, many of her relatives and her parents’ friends saw it and questioned the family about their daughter’s association with the burlesque show. Since, at 19, Miss Flake was considered a minor, her mother contacted a lawyer who filed a suit in Forsyth County District Court for invasion of privacy. Even though the newspaper ran a retraction, the case was decided in Flake’s favor and she was awarded $6,500 for being exposed to ridicule and contempt.

On appeal, the North Carolina Supreme Court ordered a new trial, but the lawyers involved signed a final judgment that awarded Flake $1 for damages plus court costs.

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