Laurell Gaines was a dancer who performed in vaudeville, musical revues and Hollywood films from the 1920s-1940s. This collection
contains newspaper clippings, letters, programs, portraits and publicity photographs. It covers both her U.S. engagements
and her tour of Asia and Australia during WWII.
Laurell Gaines was a ballet and ballroom dancer who performed in vaudeville, musical revues and Hollywood films from the 1920s-1940s
throughout the U.S., as well as coastal Asia and Australia. She was born in Missouri in 1909 and trained in ballet on the
West Coast with Theodore Kosloff (1882-1956), a Russian choreographer and silent film actor. At the age of 15 she began dancing
professionally to support her family after the death of her father. She danced in vaudeville shows for Fanchon and Marco,
performed in Hollywood films, and went on to partner with Ted Mendenhall (stage name Ted Vaun). Together, Gaines and Vaun
performed throughout the United States at hotels, nightclubs and resorts in cities like New York, Chicago, San Francisco,
Shreveport and Los Angeles. In Los Angeles, Laurell and Ted performed at a number of popular spots like the Biltmore Hotel
Supper Room, Beverly Hills Hotel, Café de Paree, the Palomar Ballroom and the Catalina Casino. In 1939 she began a tour of
coastal Asia with Lynn Cowan and Bill Bailey's "Cocoanut Grove" Entertainers. She performed in Singapore, Colombo, Cathay,
Manila, Federal Malaya States and Hong Kong. Stranded in Colombo when WWII broke out and the troupe's French steamer was recalled,
Gaines made her way back to America via Singapore, Manila and eventually Australia, where she performed with Florence Chappel.
Once she secured a steamer for the West Coast, she stopped over in Honolulu where she witnessed the bombing of Pearl Harbor
from her hotel. Gaines retired after returning to Los Angeles on a refugee convoy. During WWII she worked an office job by
day and took a defense job by night. Post-WWII she continued working office jobs until her retirement. She passed away in
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