Legendary San Francisco stripper Carol Doda, whose splashy act helped introduce topless entertainment to the city more than 50 years ago, has died at age 78. Doda died Monday in the city from complications of kidney failure, friend Ron Minolla disclosed Wednesday. Doda first went topless in 1964 at the Condor Club—a move that changed every nightspot on busy Broadway in San Francisco. During its heyday in the early 1970s, the street in North Beach buzzed with more than two dozen clubs where carnival-like barkers beckoned passers-by to watch bare-breasted dancers. The era spanned some 20 years. Doda later had an acting role in Head, a 1968 film featuring the Monkees, and was profiled in Tom Wolfe's book The Pump House Gang.
Doda grew up in San Francisco and dropped out of school in the eighth grade. She became a cocktail waitress at 14 and later went on to dance at the Condor. Known for her augmented bust, Doda rode onto the stage atop a piano on an elevator platform, debuting her act the same day President Lyndon B. Johnson drew a half-million people in a visit to San Francisco. It wasn't long before the big news in town was "The Girl on the Piano." Doda became a legend and the Condor Club had an illuminated sign carrying her likeness. Doda left the club in 1985 and later owned a lingerie store, performed in a rock band, did modeling and comedy, and sang and danced at another club. She never married or had children. (Click for 13 strippers who went on to become celebrities.)