Dita Von Teese

Active - 2005 - 2022  |   Born - Sep 28, 1972 in West Branch, Michigan, United States  |   Genres - Music, Avant-garde / Experimental, Drama

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Biography by AllMovie

Modern queen of the burlesque Dita Von Teese was born Heather Renee Sweet in Michigan in 1972. Raised on classic movies from the Golden Age of Hollywood, Von Teese developed a fascination with the old-fashioned style from an early age. After the family moved to California, Von Teese became even more immersed in film culture, and eventually studied costume design in college, preparing for a career in styling period films.

Von Teese began working at a local strip club when she was 18, but was disappointed by the lack of style and creativity shown by most of the dancers. She began developing a modern burlesque show, which would prove to be increasingly popular. By the mid-'90s, Von Teese was a celebrity in her own niche, spearheading a resurgence in burlesque dancing and pin-up style. She became a recognizable media personality, modeling for designers like Vivienne Westwood and Jean-Paul Gaultier, and appearing in a small selection of films, like The Death of Salvador Dali and The Boom Boom Room. In 2005, Von Teese married rocker Marilyn Manson; the two divorced in 2007.

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  • Worked in a lingerie store when she was 15.
  • At age 18 she began working at a strip bar in El Toro, CA, where she started to create her burlesque routine.
  • Wore a corset every day for seven years until she cinched her waist down to 16 inches.
  • In 1992 she created a website to sell her photos; dita.net became one of the first adult sites on the Internet.
  • Got her big break in 2002 when she was asked to pose for the cover of Playboy.
  • Chose the name Dita in tribute to silent-film actress Dita Parlo and picked Von Teese from the phone book.
  • Modeled for such designers as Vivienne Westwood and Jean Paul Gaultier.  
  • An advocate in the fight against HIV and AIDS, she was a MAC Viva Glam Spokesperson from 2006 to '08.
  • Performed at several events for Amfar and was honored with their Award of Courage in 2008.
  • In 2011, appeared as a guest star on CSI and performed her classic Martini Glass routine.