With Hulu’s ‘Welcome to Chippendales’ on screen, fans want to know more about the wife of the mind behind the Chippendales, Irene Banerjee.
A remarkable story of perseverance, talent, and courage lies behind the resounding success of Chippendales, the first male-stripper dance troupe in the U.S. Hulu’s captivating series, “Welcome to Chippendales” delves into this tale, particularly emphasizing the pivotal role played by Irene Banerjee, the wife of Steve Banerjee.
Irene Banerjee Is Brought to Live
Annaleigh Ashford portrayed Irene in the series. She faced a unique challenge in bringing her character to life on screen. With limited information on Irene, Ashford embarked on a journey of discovery to prepare for the role.
In an interview with Newsweek, she revealed, “Normally, when you work on a project based on real people and historical events, you have a wealth of resources to draw from. However, this case had very little information, especially regarding Irene. So, I immersed myself in the period, delving deep into the era’s culture and mainly focusing on how women were treated.”
Ashford emphasizes the importance of Irene’s journey in the series, stating,
“It was crucial for me that Irene’s character not only supported Steve’s arc but also had her own. I wanted viewers to witness her growth alongside a man, observing her evolution and choices.”
Irene’s decision to assert her independence represents women’s rights progress. It inspires women to stand firm on their own.
What’s Known of Irene Banerjee’s Early Life?
Irene Katherine (Tychowskyj) Banerjee’s journey begins with her birth and the rich tapestry of her family heritage. Her parents, Wolodymyr Tychowskyj (1921 – 1984) and Anna Szypka (1926 – 2011) hailed from Ukraine, adding a touch of Eastern European allure to Irene’s lineage.
While most of the details available about Irene are based on her character in the series “Welcome to Chippendales,” we know she wasn’t an only child. Irene was one of six siblings. She had three sisters named Olga, Kathy, and Helen and two brothers named Myron and Robert.
Irene was born in New York and embraced her Ukrainian heritage early on. As a Caucasian woman of Ukrainian descent, Irene’s heritage was a significant part of her identity. Her parents’ upbringing in Ukraine, their traditions, and the values they instilled in their children contributed to Irene’s character and worldview.
Irene Banerjee’s Education and Career
According to different reports, Irene attended South Park High School in Buffalo, New York. There is no information on the university she attended, but she is an accountant in the Hulu series. As an independent woman, Irene moved from her family house to California when she was 27.
She lived in Southern California for the rest of her life: In Playa Del Rey, Venice, and Simi Valley, respectively. Irene dreamed of being a Hollywood bookkeeper and ended up working at the Warner Brothers and a landscaping firm. She was doing what she loved when she met her husband, Steve, a few years later.
Irene Banerjee Settles Down With Steve
Irene came across Somen Banerjee, AKA Steve, for the first time in the late 1970s. This was when he established the Chippendales all-men club exclusively for women in Los Angeles, California. They got married in the early 1980s.
In “Welcome to Chippendales,” the relationship between Steve and Irene is described as unique. Their “love language” centered around numbers. Initially, Irene appeared to merely accompany Steve to the club, eagerly awaiting the night’s end to slip into her comfortable slippers at home.
Irene stood by Steve’s side throughout his life. She was a strong pillar and encouragement to her husband, ensuring the success of the Chippendales. Her strength and independence shined when Steve committed a crime, and she had to hold up alone.
Steve Banerjee’s Crimes
In 1994, the gripping saga of Steve Banerjee’s life took a dark turn. Charged with attempted arson, racketeering, and murder-for-hire, he found himself caught in a legal whirlwind. However, amidst the chaos, his steadfast wife, Irene Banerjee, emerged as a rock, determined to lessen his punishment and protect Chippendales’ legacy.
Media reports revealed that Steve Banerjee had conspired with Ray Colon, a former police officer turned entertainer, to orchestrate the murder of his rival, Nick De Noia, the brilliant show producer behind Chippendales. In a chilling sequence of events, Colon sought out Gilberto Rivera Lopez, a hired assassin.
The consequences were devastating, with De Noia tragically falling victim to a fatal gunshot in his Manhattan office. This sinister plot extended even further as it was revealed that Steve Banerjee had also planned to eliminate Michael Fullington, a former Chippendales dancer, and choreographer, alongside two other ex-Chippendales dancers associated with the rival troupe Adonis.
Throughout the impending legal tempest, Irene Banerjee stood resolute, an unwavering pillar of loyalty to her husband. Tirelessly, she rallied character witnesses, hoping their testimonies would sway the judge and lead to a reduction in Steve’s looming 26-year sentence.
However, Steve Banerjee was found guilty despite Irene’s valiant efforts. Tragically, he ended his life on the eve of his scheduled sentencing. He left behind a trail of shattered dreams and unanswered questions.
Irene’s Role in the Success of the Chippendales
After Steve Banerjee’s death, Irene stepped up to lead Chippendales and preserve the business’s legacy. Despite the challenges she faced, Irene worked tirelessly to ensure the continued success of Chippendales.
However, when Irene got diagnosed with breast cancer, she decided to secure the brand’s future. Before her unfortunate demise, Irene sold the Chippendales for $2.5 million to a private owner. The strategic move saved the business.
Today, Chippendales remain a captivating sensation, enchanting audiences with their irresistible blend of abs, charm, and seduction. They have a residency at the prestigious Rio All-Suite Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas. Also, with tickets starting at $49.95 and reaching up to $149.95, Chippendales delivers an unforgettable experience.
Irene Banerjee is survived by two children; a son, Christian, and a daughter, Lindsay. Like Irene, Melinda Rose Woodward stayed with her husband, Tom Jones, despite his shortcomings.