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March 17, 1962: Meet the Roosevelt Rockettes

  • Blog Post by: Ben Welter
  • April 11, 2014 - 7:23 PM
 
This photo by Jack Gillis of the Minneapolis Star sat in a steel cabinet in the Star Tribune library for more than 50 years, along with thousands of other images rarely used a second time. I ran across it in a search of our new digital photo archive. The photo appeared on the Teen Topper page, accompanied by the caption below. As was typical of the era, the caption provided readers with the name, age and home address of each of the young women. You’d think that would make it easy to track down Gail Wittels, the Rockette with the broken leg. But all I can find is a document suggesting that she went to college and earned a graduate degree in economics at the University of California. After that the thin trail evaporates. If you know her, or any of these fine-looking young ladies, post a comment or drop me a line. I’d also love to hear more about the Roosevelt Rockettes. The group was established in 1951 and led “a lively existence through succeeding student generations,” according to a 1967 photo caption. They made their own costumes and did most of their own choreography. Impressive!
 

Rockette Puts Her Game Leg Forward

When Gail Wittels, 16, 5537 Woodlawn Blvd., shows up for rehearsal of Roosevelt High School Rockettes, she doesn't put her best foot forward -- she puts her game leg forward (right). Out skiing on the season's multistratous snow, Gail suffered a spiral fracture of her right leg. Consequently, she will be on the sidelines when the dance troupe appears at the school's talent show next Friday in the school auditorium. She also will miss the spring fashion show April 5, also at the school. The fashion show will be a salute to spring, with students, parents and members of the school staff serving as models. A quartet, the "Teddy Tones," will present song fashions. Rockettes (above, from left) are Dawn Peterson, 15, 4213 18th Av. S.; Pam Filmore, 16, 3940 17th Av. S.; Kathy Nelson, 17, 3120 Wenonah Place; Mary Keohane, 17, 5156 30th Av. S.; Lynn Scheele, 16, 4252 Nokomis Av.; Joan Johnson, 17, 5429 31st Av. S.; Kay Kwakenat, 16, 5337 Nokomis Av.; Nora Monahan, 17, 4916 Aldrich Av. S.; Diane Franzen, 17, 4104 20th Av. S.; Lani Greenfield, 17, 3916 29th Av. S.; Jacquie Spence, 15, 4933 Nokomis Av.; Mary Jo Kunz, 16, 5256 45th Av. S., and Gail cheerfully resting her weight on her good leg. [Pictured separately were Pam Anderson, 18, 3900 18th Av. S.; Karin Wakefield, 17, 4151 24th Av. S.; Frances Malmsten, 17, 4740 17th Av. S., and Jerilyn Johnson, 18, 3504 43rd Av. S.] 

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