Burlesque Photobooth Angel

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Catherine at 16

When I first introduced the photos above and below, in my post Sweet 16, I was unable to read the name that was written on the back of one of the photos. I received a lot of help identifying the sitter from reader’s comments. Ellis Tyd from How to Spot a Fraud was the first to give me her correct name, Catherine Nichepor. He also sent me a link, as did Mike from Mike’s Look at Life, to a blog where Catherine’s hand written recipes were being posted. This link also contained a lot of information about her history. John Crispin from John Crispin’s Notebook sent me a link to a US census of a Katherine Nichepor. It is definitely the same Catherine, despite her first name being spelt differently. I also received other links that were not quite as fruitful, but thank you to everyone for their help. I was thrilled with the response!

Here is some of Catherine’s story from the blog Yesterdish. Most of this information was taken from a scrapbook the author bought at a car boot sale.

Catherine was the daughter of Russian immigrants. In primary school, she went by the name Katrina Nichepor, then Cathern in middle school, finally settling on Catherine in high school. 

Her parents operated a general store. She graduated from Wyandotte High School in 1933, a year after her elder sister Sophie. Sophie and Catherine both grew up dancing, and danced together in festivals at their Russian Orthodox church.

In 1935 Catherine started her dancing career. She danced under her own name and occasionally under the name Kay Nichols. She kept a scrapbook with newspaper clippings of some of the shows in which she performed, including the Hit Parade of 1936 in an autographed photo she sent home to her sister.

 

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Catherine around 20 years old

 Catherine met her husband, Michael Carl Marian, in Detroit in 1936, when she was 21 and he was 32.

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Catherine in a dancing costume, aged 17

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A page from her scrapbook

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With her elder sister Sophie in dancing costume

The final image of Catherine is from Vintage Burlesque Photos. It is signed and dedicated to her sister, who at some point changed her name to Sonia.

I prefer the softer Catherine to the later fashionable, risqué Catherine. I wonder what her Russian Orthodox family thought of her move into burlesque theatre, the hard lines of her make-up and her provocative PR photos? I fear they wouldn’t have approved at all!

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23 comments
  1. John said:

    Great photos Katherine! Your commentary is interesting too, I spent several minutes looking at these photos. ❤️

    Liked by 2 people

    • Thanks John. It was a hard post to get around to doing as I wanted to acknowledge all the help I got. I love the extra pics, too. She was a beautiful girl before all the plucking and make-up.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. What is so much fun about these images, is that the real history of the people involved, bring them to life. It sure must be fun to explore and find out who the folks are and what they lived. Somehow this is social history art.

    Liked by 2 people

  3. Thanks Ted. Yes it is fun. It is surprising what you can discover if a photo has a name on it. It is rare to know the full name, though.

    Like

  4. elmediat said:

    A fascinating post indeed. It demonstrates the depth of personal and cultural history sits beneath an innocuous photograph, such as those from a photobooth. 🙂

    The family backstory of the burlesque dancers reminds me of the novel & film, The Night They Raided Minsky’s – how a real nice girl from a religious family invented the striptease. 😀

    Liked by 1 person

    • elmediat said:

      I just checked my posts I like links – you will never guess what image from your post was automatically selected as a link. 😀

      Liked by 2 people

  5. Mike said:

    All very interesting. I like her last pose but am not a fan of the hard lines, as you call them. The picture with her sister Sophie is my favorite.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Mine too. I imagine there would have been a lot about her adult life that left her parents looking at that photo with melancholy.

      Like

    • Me too, Hanna. I wish I had access to the files the recipe blogger has. She has a lot more of the story to tell, but hasn’t posted it as yet.

      Liked by 1 person

  6. How exciting to peel back the layers of the photo booth photo to actually find the person… with a little help from your readers. I really enjoyed the process, Katherine. Great post.

    Liked by 1 person

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