Bentley, Gladys, 1907-1960Alternative names
Gladys Bentley (b. Aug. 12, 1907, Philadelphia, PA–d. Jan. 18, 1960, Los Angeles, CA) was a blues singer famous during the Harlem Renaissance in the 1920s and 1930s. She is known for her cross-dressing performences, often dressing in men's clothes, while she played piano and sang her own raunchy lyrics to popular tunes of the day in a deep. After coming to New York City at age 16, Bentley, an open lesbian, made her name at the Clam House — Harlem’s most popular gay-friendly speakeasy.
In 1937, Bentley relocated to Los Angeles. She became a leading entertainer there and in the Bay Area. By 1958, she said she had completed an autobiography, “If This Be Sin,” but it was never published. She died from complications of the flu at age 52 while studying to become a minister.
- Hollywood, CA, US
- United States, 00, US
- Philadelphia, PA, US