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