It really was Dickensian; her employer was cheap on coal and ink, ran a ring of pickpocket orphans, and was a double agent for the French Revolution. Bad scene. So glad she got out.
My favorite shot of Cindy Fuller ever — it actually comes from a different Playboy feature.
It was in the hope of becoming a professional swimmer that Cindy left the bastion of the Brahmins for the balmy, baskable Florida clime.
You are like, “What are the Water Follies?” and I am like, “I don’t know either.” Let’s find out together. Walk with me to a place I like to call Googlytown. No, we don’t need to take the car. It’s close enough to walk. Jeez, City Boy.
The International Water Follies appear to have been started by synchronized swimming and water sports entrepeneur Sam Snyder.
Billed as the “world’s longest traveling aqua show,” … the group included swimmers, divers,comedy divers, and water ballet swimmers.
(Synchronized Swimming: An American History. Bean, Dawn Pawson. Jefferson, NC: McFarland & Co., 2005: p. 11.)
Interestingly, according to Synchronized Swimming, Snyder was in Boston prior to moving the Follies to Miami (p. 14). This is interesting because Cindy was a Bostonian gal. Stay with me. The outfit he ran in Mass. during the 1930’s was called Sam Synder Productions of Boston, and it seems to be shortly after that that he hit FL for the first time, where the St. Petersburg Aquabelles performed.
After taking a break for the second World War, Snyder hit up the Bay Area in my Norcal neck of the woods, starting synchro programs in San Francisco and Oakland. Not long after, he took the production to Miami as Sam Snyder’s International Water Follies (p. 43).
Interest in synchronized swimming and watersports shows was strong enough both domestically and internationally that the Follies made it in to Billboard.
Sam Snyder’s Water Follies will mark its 25th season as it readies for a tour of the United States due to start next month. … Unique this season is … a new gimmick in water shows [with] the introduction of surf boards and small canoes in production numbers.
(“Snyder Readies 25th ‘Follies'; Plans Recording.” Billboard. March 4, 1960. p. 135.)
Mr. Snyder also recorded the singers whose music he used in his show and released their albums under his own label. I am coming up goose eggs on when his ambitious productions finally ceased, but if I ever find out, I’ll come back and let you know.
And that’s the story of the International Water Follies.
Ms. Fuller says she was the first Jewish playmate (we’ve talked about the contention for that title before), and she may well be very correct in that claim. After the Water Follies, Ms. Fuller also danced at the world-famous Copacabana in New York. Today, she goes by her married name, Cindy Fuller Martino, and is a professional artist.
Group shots and an article scan from “Playmate House Party” and “Bunny’s Honeys,” special features Playboy ran in May 1959 and September 1959. Click to enlarge. The latter, “Bunny’s Honeys,” was an article about photographer Linnea “Bunny” Yeager, an amazing o.g. and female trailblazer in the pin-up world. Give her wiki a spin. You’ll be glad!
top, L to R: Janet Lupo, Miss November 1975; Bebe Buell, Miss November 1974; Cindy Fuller, presently featured; and the I-can’t-believe-I-haven’t-featured-her super-rad Helena Antonaccio, Miss June 1964.
bottom, L to R: Janet, Helena, Cindy, and Bebe. Adorable.
The above pictures come from the amaze-balls fantabulous Helena Antonaccio’s personal website, and were taken during production of Vh1’s “Rock of All Ages,” which aired in November 1999. Featured were Miss Antonaccio, Miss Fuller, Janet Lupo, and Bebe Buell. What a lineup of special, timeless gals! Super-cool.