Jean Veloz, Lindy Hop Legend, Dies at 98

Jean Veloz, Lindy Hop Legend, Dies at 98

Jean Veloz, Lindy Hop Legend, Dies at 98: The pioneering Lindy Hop dancer Jean Veloz, who shone in 1940s Hollywood musicals like Swing Fever and others, has passed away. She was 98. According to her friend, agent, and manager, Rusty Frank, Veloz passed away on Sunday at her Los Angeles home.

The 2010 occasion A Tribute to the Groovie Movie, which honored Veloz and her commitment to dance, was co-produced by Frank. Frank says, “Jean invented a swing dancing style that was acclaimed worldwide.” It was incredibly fluid and starkly contrasted with the more jitterbug style popular in the 1930s and 1940s.

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She was the idol of many dancer generations.

In the high-octane routine “One Girl and Two Boys,” accompanied by Kay Kyser’s band and wedged between Marilyn Maxwell’s singing, Veloz danced with servicemen played by Lennie Smith and Don Gallagher in MGM’s Swing Fever (1943).

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She also performed the jitterbug in Jackie Cooper’s Where Are Your Children? (1943), partnered with Bob Ashley in Dickie Moore’s Jive Junction (1943), danced with Arthur Walsh in MGM’s 10-minute swing short Groovie Movie (1944) and danced with Dean Collins in Jack Benny’s The Horn Blows at Midnight (1945).

She began training with Frank Veloz at one of the schools he owned with his wife, Yolanda, after performing in the chorus line of plays choreographed by Nick Castle in 1946 at the El Rancho Vegas hotel. (The well-known dance couple appeared in the 1942 movie Pride of the Yankees.)

She and he would soon work together. Before getting married in 1963, they worked as choreographers for the 1953 film Latin Lovers, starring Lana Turner, Rita Moreno, and Ricardo Montalban. They taught Anthony Dexter the tango for the title role in Valentino (1951).

On March 1st, 1924, Jean Grinnell Phelps was born in Los Angeles. In the family’s living room, she and her brothers, Robert and Raymond, frequently practiced the Lindy Hop with their friends. Later, she and Ray defeated more than 500 other dancers to win a jitterbug tournament in Santa Maria, California.

She won a dancing competition with Gene Halverson at the Hollywood Legion Stadium, and the prize was a Screen Actors Guild card and a part in Swing Fever. She wed Harold “Babe” Davi in 1947, but their marriage ended in divorce.

She and Frank Veloz appeared as Jean Davi on the L.A. game shows Fare for Ladies in 1956–1957, performing the tango, waltz, rhumba, samba, swing, and foxtrot while instructing these dances live on television. In the acclaimed 1975 CBS television movie Queen of the Stardust Ballroom, starring Maureen Stapleton and Charles Durning, they later assisted choreographer Marge Champion.

When her husband passed away in 1981, she took a retirement, but she returned to acting in 1992 after being included in a swing documentary. In 1996, she was given a place in the California Swing Dance Hall of Fame.

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In 2016, Veloz worked as a dance instructor on ABC’s The Bachelorette, and a year later, she performed “One Girl and Two Boys” on NBC’s Little Big Shots: Forever Young, which Steve Harvey hosted.

Lindy Hopped to “Love Me or Leave Me” at 95.

Over the years, Veloz has made numerous special guest appearances at dance festivals worldwide, with Rock That Swing in Germany in February 2020 being the most recent. Stacey, one of her nieces, is still alive.

Yolanda, her deceased stepdaughter, was wed to actor Bernie Kopell from 1974 until their divorce in 1995. The first time Frank met Veloz was in 1997. “Every moment spent with Jean was a lesson on how to live a life,” Frank stated. “Her love of people was enormous, and her positivity was unmatched.”