Header


Chester Hale 1939

Selma I continued to work for Vitale, and he let me go out for auditions.  One time, in the Spring of 1939, there was an ad in the paper for a Chester Hale girl.  Chester Hale was producing a Broadway show at the Winter Garden Theater that was going on with Frank Faye, the comedian. Chester Hale had a dancing studio and was a choreographer. He had a group of dancers at the Roxy Theatre, but he specialized in ballet.  He had this studio, and he put an ad in, needing dancers for the show.   I went to the studio for the audition; it was around the corner from Vitale’s.  There was a bunch of girls hanging around at the bottom of the stairs leading up to his studio, so I said “What’s going on?” and they said that “he only wants girls that are 5 feet, 5 inches and over.” So I, who was 5 feet 4 ½ inches,  said “well I’m 5 ft 5,” so they all made room for me and they yelled up “she’s 5 ft 5…” And so up the stairs I went, to the audition.  I was accepted.  They didn’t measure me. 

Selma Chester Hale was the one that sent me to have my eyebrows tweezed and  he used to say to me, “Smile” so people would look at my pretty face, and not at my feet. I was one of his special “picked dancers”, for his Frank Faye show. We did a jazz toe number, and a “Fan” number. That number was really something! Black slinky costume, and a big white fan, almost impossible to manage.  Dania Krupska was in it. She was the “Dania, darling” in the Our Gang comedy.  No kidding!  I was 18.

We opened on Broadway, we did 2 months there, and then believe-it-or-not, the show moved to Boston.  My mother kvelled from that.  She, of course, came to see it - a couple of times.  People wouldn’t believe her daughter was in it when she told them – of course, she told everybody.  But in the back of the program, it had “Chester Hale, Picked Girls”. We weren’t billed by our names.

After Boston, it went to Montreal. We were there when the Queen of England came, on a trip.  Unfortunately,  no one came to see the show, so it closed, after the first week. We all went back to New York, and I went back to Fokine, and worked as a secretary again. And of course, I became a very – I was OK before – but with the lessons and the training – I became quite competent as a ballet dancer.

Catherine Littlefield, the American Juibee and the World's Fair in New York

Selma The AMERICAN JUBILEE was the ballet event at the World’s Fair in Forest Hills, New York – from May to Sept. 1940. Catherine Littlefield, of the Littlefield Ballet Co. from Philidelphia, was chosen to choreograph it for the World’s Fair. She brought some of her old students, including Michael Kidd. He was one of the dancers in the corps de ballet.

Selma The World Fairgrounds was just a flat territory – we had one corner of it. Like a country fair. We had seats around, in sections, like a small theatre. This was all performed outside and so we hoped for rain! We use to pray for rain! Billy Rose also had a section where he produced a water ballet show. Selma Paul Haakon was the soloist. He was a very famous male dancer at that time. There is a Copacabana type image with Paul Haakon lying on our laps, that was at the World’s Fair (see Photos). Michael Kidd was there, also Jerome Robbins, and Dody Goodman. She was cookoo, a nut, and became very famous. She got a job doing a commercial on TV and she was so good she ended up with her own TV show.

There’s another picture of me sitting on the shoulders of another male dancer. He was afraid I’d knock off his wig! Michael Kidd as well as dancing was also a dance photographer and photographed us dancing. He wrote his name on the edge of some of the photos. During the Fair there was a small fire overnight, and someone took a photo of us with the “burnt” clothing on the table (see Photos).


Home    Early Years    Fokine Ballet    39-40s    Radio City    Moving On    Photos