2 3 Throwback Thursday and Vernon and Irene Castle | Ballet Webb

Thursday, May 14, 2015

Throwback Thursday and Vernon and Irene Castle

Throwback Thursday and Vernon and Irene Castle

Vernon Blythe was born on May 2, 1887 in England, and Irene Foote was born in New York in 1893. They became one of the most famous husband and wife dance teams in the world. They originated the one-step and the turkey trot. They were responsible for popularizing the waltz, the tango and the bunny hug among other dances.

Vernon had an engineering degree, but he also worked as a magician. When he decided to devote himself to show business, he changed his name to Castle.  Irene studied dance as a child and later taught ballroom dancing. She met Vernon in 1910 when he arranged an audition for her so she could be a replacement dancer in The Summer Widowers. 

In 1911 they married and began performing together in Europe and the United States. They appeared on Broadway and in 1914 made a silent film about their rise to fame, as well as other short films featuring their various dances.

Irene was admired and imitated for her fashion sense, spawning the “Castle Frock”, bobbed hair, and popularizing the Dutch bonnet.  Sewing patterns of her clothing appeared in The Ladies Home Journal.

After the beginning of World War I Vernon returned to England and joined the Royal Air Force while Irene continued to perform alone. During the war,Vernon became an aerial photographer and received an award for bravery.  He was killed in an aviation accident on February 15, 1918, while on a training mission with a student pilot.

Irene carried on.  She appeared on vaudeville and in 1939 acted as an adviser for the film The Story of Vernon and Irene Castle that starred Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers.  In her later life, she worked in the field of animal rescue.

 Irene died January 26, 1969. She is buried beside Vernon at Woodlawn Cemetery in New York.

From the Big Blue Book of Ballet Secrets:

Dance History Factoid #70:  
Vernon and Irene Castle were a famous husband and wife dance team.”

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“It is an absolute human certainty that no one can know his own beauty or perceive a sense of his own worth until it has been reflected back to him in the mirror of another loving, caring human being.”
John Joseph Powell, The Secret of Staying in Love
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