Today is the birthday of the great dancer Harriet Hoctor (1905-1977). A native of rural Hoosick Falls, New York, at age 12 she was sent to New York City to live and study with a Russian ballet master. By the early 1920s she was touring big time vaudeville’s Keith/ Orpheum circuit including its flagship the Palace. This led to featured turns in Broadway shows and revues such as the Duncan Sisters’ Topsy and Eva (1924-1925); Show Girl (1929) with Eddie Foy Jr and Clayton, Jackson and Durante; Ed Wynn’s Simple Simon (1930-1931), Earl Carroll’s Vanities of 1932; and the Ziegfeld Follies of 1936. This led to film work in The Great Ziegfeld (1936), Shall We Dance with Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers (1937), and the short Billy Rose’s Casa Manaa Revue (1938). She continued to work for Rose for a couple of years, dancing and choreographing at his Diamond Horseshoe Revue. In the 40s she opened a dance school in Boston, where she taught for 30 years.
Here, following elaborate fanfare, is her ballet sequence in The Great Ziegfeld:
To find out more about vaudeville past and present, consult No Applause, Just Throw Money: The Book That Made Vaudeville Famous, available at Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and wherever nutty books are sold.
And don’t miss my new book Chain of Fools: Silent Comedy and Its Legacies from Nickelodeons to Youtube, just released by Bear Manor Media, also available from amazon.com etc etc etc