She was born Johnnie Lucille Collier in Nacogdoches, Texas.
She was discovered by Lucille Ball while doing a show in a San Francisco nightclub.
She began dance classes in order to strengthen her legs after suffering from rickets.
She claimed to be able to dance at 500 taps per minute. Her tap shoes were called Moe and Joe and are exhibited in the Smithsonian Institution in Washington.
At the end of her MGM contract she flew overseas to Morocco to entertain on the Timex TV Hour for Bob Hope. She sang and danced "Too Darn Hot" in 120-degree heat, entertaining 5000 soldiers.
She claimed her difficulty maintaining relationships with men was due to her being an Egyptian queen in a past life and executing any men who displeased her.
On her tax returns, listed her occupation as "Star Lady".