Harriet Hoctor Was a Stage and Film Dancer
HOOS1CK FALLS, June 16, 1977
Harriet Hoctor, 71, who left Hoosick Falls at the age of 12 and had a ballet dance career of more than 50 years in stage shows and movies in this country, and London, England, died June 9 in Arlington, Virginia. Her body was returned here for a funeral on Monday at Mahar Funeral Home and in Church of the Immaculate Conception. Burial was in St. Mary's Cemetery.
Miss Hoctor was born in Hoosick Falls on September 25, 1905. She was daughter of the late Timothy and Elizabeth Kearney Hoctor.
When 12 years old she attended the Chalif Dance School in New York City. In 1920 she made her first big step in the dance world as a member of the Ziegfeld show Sally, and followed in Topsy and Eva, 1924-26; A La Carte, 1927; Three Musketeers, 1928; Show Girl, 1929; Simple Simon, 1930. In 1930 she spent a year performing in London.
In the late 1930's she went to Hollywood where she featured with Fred Astaire and
Ginger Rogers in The Great Ziegfeld and Shall We Dance. In the 1940's she joined the Billy Rose Productions in Diamond Horseshoe.
From 1945 until her retirement in 1974, Miss Hoctor operated her own dance school in Boston and commuted to New York for engagements.
While away from Hoosick Falls for many years, she returned occasionally. Relatives and friends here followed her career with interest. She did not hesitate to let people know Hoosick Falls was her home town.
Her nearest survivors are nieces, nephews, and cousins.
The Mass was offered by the Rev. Walter J. Quinn, pastor. Interment was in the family lot where her parents and other relatives are buried.
Harriet Hoctor, a noted ballet dancer, died Thursday in northern Virginia Doctors Hospital in Arlington. She was 74 years old and lived in Lorton Virginia.
The dainty, diminutive, golden-haired dancer began her career before ballet had achieved its current prominence among the American performing arts. She, therefore, began her dancing in vaudeville musical comedies and reviews in theaters, including the Palace, Roxy and Paramount in New York and the Hippodrome in London.
In the mid-1930s she danced in several films including “The Great Zeigfield” and “Shall We Dance?” a Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers feature.
Performed at Diamond Horseshoe
She also performed in, as well as choreographed, reviews in the early 40’s at Billy Rose’s Diamond Horseshoe nightclub.
Be graceful and talented ballerina also was the operator of and a teacher at the Harriet Hoctor school of ballet in Boston and its suburb of Winchester from the early 40s until several years ago, when she retired to Lorton. Her students at the school included Nancy Crompton, Joyce Cuoco go and Sally Balesti.
Ms. Hoctor was born in Hoosick Falls, NY, near Albany, and, when she was 12 years old, was taken to Manhattan to study dance by an aunt, Annie Kearney, who guided her career. She studied with Ivan Tarasov, Louis H. Chalif and Anton Dolan in New York, Merriel Abbott in Chicago and Nicholas Legat in London.
With characteristic modesty, Miss Hoctor remarked to an interviewer in 1930: “People thought I was meant to be adancer and when I was a child because I could
take my hair ribbon off with my feet! And that was my particular stunt, and I was always called on to show it off at parties. I was just naturally able to stand on my toes, too, from the time I was very little.”
Ms. Hoctor was regarded as a born dancer because, from an early age, she used the art as your principal way of self-expression.
She began her career in vaudeville, touring the country with her aunt as chaperon. She made her Broadway stage debut in the chorus of the Jerome Kern musical “Sally,” which starred Marilyn Miller and Leon Errol.
Ms. Hoctor was soon acclaimed in a featured ballet role in the Duncan sisters show “Topsy and Eva.”
She regularly performed at the Palace and other key showcases, sharing billing with such performers as Jack Benny, George Jessel, Bill Robinson and George Burns and Gracie Allen.
Her ballet sequences in such reviews and musical comedies as “A La Carte,” “Showgirl”, “Simple Simon” and editions of “Earl Carroll’s Vanities” and “Zeigfield Follies” won consistent praise from Brooks Atkinson, then a theater critic of the New York Times. He lauded “her genuine skill,” ”excellence,” pirouetting “like a willow wand in the spring” and ability to suggests “stirring Surrealist imagery.”
Ms. Hoctor is survived by three nieces and two nephews.
A Requiem Mass will be offered Monday at 10 a.m. in the Immaculate Conception Church in Hoosick Falls.