In the MGM movie, this scene ends with the Cowardly Lion having his mane in ringlets with a ribbon at one side. (W. W. Denslow and John R. Neill also drew the Lion with a ribbon, at the top of his head, but of course he was always undeniably a real lion.) He happily sings about “The certain air of savoir faire” with his paw extended.
As Patrick Healy reported in the New York Times, playwright Douglas Carter Beane sees Bert Lahr’s portrayal of the Lion as arising from the burlesque tradition of “the nance,” a comically effeminate type of second banana. Indeed, Lahr was a burlesque comedian whose first big break came in 1925 when a scout sent Florenz Ziegfeld a telegram that said:
SAW THIS AFTERNOON THE FUNNIEST WHITE MAN I HAVE SEEN IN YEARS BERT LAHR THINK HE'D BE WONDERFUL FOR YOUR NEXT FOLLIES IF HE EVER COMES AROUND NEW YORK SEE HIM HE PLAYS A NANCE COP…(That telegram was printed in Stage magazine ten years later.)
Given the MGM movie’s accumulated audience, Lahr’s Lion might be the most watched burlesque “nance” performance of all time.