Charles Pierce was one of the 20th century’s foremost female impersonators and drag, and a pioneer if you will, for future drag queens. Charles was particularly noted for his impersonation of Bette Davis which got him famous in the cities around the world. Born in Watertown, New York, he began his show business career playing the organ and acting in radio dramas at station WWNY. He branched out into a comedy routine, attired in tuxedo, yet managing to evoke eerily convincing imitations of popular movie actresses. Eschewing the term drag queen, which he hated, he billed himself as a male actress.
Initially playing in small gay clubs, his fame spread. He took up residence in San Francisco, California, where his act became very well-known to Hollywood stars. As he toured, his costuming became more elaborate, initially adding small props, later full costume and makeup changes.