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Patti Waggin was born Patricia Artae Hardwick in 1926 although many of her documents will say she was born later. A common occurrance during the day for female actors and dancers who wanted to keep their ages as younger women.

She never knew her real father and had at least one half brother from a mother who herself said she was on the stage. She confided in Patti at one point her father was a colleague back stage. Patti was married three times during her life and her second marriage to motorcycle kingpin Bill Brownell helped launch her career.

She and Brownell lived in Chico, California and Patti attended Chico State where she studied dance and acting. She found she could make extra money and moonlight in nearby San Francisco by performing in burlesque. Brownell evidently did not care but the marriage hit the skids and they divorced. Patti kept the Brownell name until she married ball player Don Rudolph in 1955.

By this time she had changed her image around 1950 and took the stage name Patti Waggin, given her by her manager Lillian Hunt. She also considered Patti Cake. She performed with a troupe in Hawaii called the Hollywood Debs and then hit the burlesque circuit where she stayed until about 1960.

By then she and Rudolph (who was up and down in the major leagues for brief periods) were thinking of a family. They had a girl, their only child. Patti was known for her unique style of athletic dancing and athletic she was. She played sports at Chico State and became a pretty good bowler in later years before and after Don's untimely death in 1968.

Patti was a headliner performing mainly in the West and Mid-West and even Dixie Evans claims it was Patti who got her into the business. Patti worked with all the big names and was considered the friendliest of the girls on the circuit.

Mrs. Rudolph and before as Patti Waggin answered all of her fan mail and was meticulous about keeping the letters. In an unusual move she used her home address for her fan club which would be unheard of today.

Don retired from baseball in 1965 and he and Patti managed their new life from their Granada Hills, California home. Don was killed in a trucking accident in September, 1968. A devastated Patti never remarried although she did have boy friends.

More than one friend and family member said Don was the love of her life and she missed him terribly. Another friend said she wouldn't even kill a bee or a bug, adding it might be Don coming back in another form. There was no reason to believe she had become a Budhist but she obviously had some spiritual thoughts along those lines.

In 1992 Patti went into the hospital for treatment of a form of diverticulitus. She never recovered and a few days later she passed away. She left behind a rich and full history of one of the true stars of burlesque who not only made it, but had a good life after her career ended.

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Patti's Fan Club
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