Medford Girls Partner with Hollywood Dancer

Feb 6, 2014

During the Great Depression, movie theaters offered special entertainment in addition to movies. The week of Sept. 8, 1935, featured an opportunity for local girls to compete in a “Dance to the Stars” contest cosponsored by the Medford Mail Tribune at the Craterian Theater in Medford. 

 By the time Hollywood dance teacher Gene LaVerne came to town, 20 girls were chosen to learn his “Dance to the Stars” routine.  After Sunday’s movie, each one danced with La Verne, and the packed house chose nine semi-finalists. Monday night, the semi-finalists again performed with LaVerne, and six were chosen to compete in the finals for a $25 cash prize.  The movie that Tuesday night was “Going Highbrow’ starring Zazu Pitts and Edward Everett Horton. But the sold-out audience was there for the dance contest, which was won by Marjorie McNair of Ashland, a regionally known ballroom and exhibition dancer. Free movie passes went to the second and third place dancers, respectively Jewel Deter and Helen McAllister, both of Medford. LaVerne may not have been dancing with Hollywood stars, but local folks loved watching him dancing with their stars. 

  Sources: "Stage Semi-Finals Dancing Contest at Craterian Tonight." Medford Mail Tribune 9 Sept. 1935: 7.  "Finals of Dancing Contest Hold Stage Craterian Tonight." 10 Sept. 1935: 7. . "Marjorie M'Nair Wins First Place in Dance Contest at Craterian." 11 Sept. 1935: 3.