Doda put herself and San Francisco's Condor Club on the map in 1964 when she stripped and began dancing topless. She famously danced on stage on top of a baby grand piano.
Doda's sensational act became even more so when she became a pioneer of silicone breast injections, going from a size 34B to a 44D.
PHOTOS: Legendary SF topless dancer Carol Doda through the years
She told ABC7 News her bosses had encouraged her.
"They said, 'You know, there's this doctor in the avenues that does this breast enlargement,'" she said.
To friends like Ron Minolli, she was much more than her famous body parts. He knew Doda for four decades and says in recent years she sang once a week at his place Gino & Carlo in North Beach.
"She was the perfect San Franciscan," he said. "There was nobody she didn't like, she cared about everybody."
Doda also opened a specialty lingerie shop on upscale Union Street once her dancing days were over. But according to a friend on the block, she often wasn't minding the store.
"She'd put a note and said, 'Please go to Caffe Union, I'm here.' People would walk over say, 'Oh Carol, could you please open?' Carol would walk over, open her door, do her business, close the door, come back here and sit down," said friend Anthony Giannini with a laugh.
Friends say Doda's legacy should be her kindness and humor.
Doda died Monday of kidney failure. She was 78 years old.
SF icon Carol Doda has died from kidney failure. This long time friend says she was much more than a topless dancer. pic.twitter.com/Qz9ixou2v1— carolyn tyler (@ctylerabc7) November 11, 2015