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She’s no longer a gypsy

Sandra Church, the original Rose Louise in GYPSY

Demonstrating that the social pressure to change the names of things is not limited to librarians and Laura Ingalls Wilder, Actors’ Equity has announced that the legendary “Gypsy Robe” has been renamed the “Legacy Robe.” (Sound familiar?)

The Gypsy Robe referenced neither actual Roma people nor Broadway’s most famous Gypsy (Rose Louise); it is awarded at each opening of a musical on Broadway to the chorus member–the “gypsy”–with the largest number of Broadway chorus credits. It is only for chorus members, not leading players, as Bonnie Franklin would discover. The robe is decorated with a souvenir from the show and presented in a ritual on opening night, passing to another chorus member in a different show on the occasion of the season’s next opening.

I’m okay with both new Legacy names, and, just as no one is suggesting we remove the Little House books from circulation, I’m sure that the Laurents/Styne/Sondheim Gypsy will continue to be revived again and again. And again.  But I’d totally like to see ALA get into this ritual robe business for its prize-winners. What fun it would be! (Many thanks for this news to She Who Lives at the Intersection of Broadway and Children’s Books, my friend Elizabeth.)

Roger Sutton About Roger Sutton

Roger Sutton has been the editor in chief of The Horn Book, Inc, since 1996. He was previously editor of The Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books and a children's and young adult librarian. He received his M.A. in library science from the University of Chicago in 1982 and a B.A. from Pitzer College in 1978. Follow him on Twitter: @RogerReads.



  1. I’m not commenting on the news, but on the Bonnie Franklin link! Thank you. Me coming across that link in your blog post is just another example of how reading opens the world to us, as we are always telling children.

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