Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Nattova, it seems, dies in Pasadena in 1988

     It appears that I've made some headway in learning the fate of our mystery girl, Natacha Nattova, the celebrated dancer (model, poet, painter, inspiration). I have reason to believe that, by the mid-30s, Nattova, then known as Nathalie (sometimes "Natalie") Daks, made a splash suing her husband, the noted dancer Nicholas Daks, and accusing another Russian dancer of being a marriage-wrecking Jezebel. By the fifties, sporting the name Natalie Daks, she was living in California, where she commenced maintaining a low profile. She eventually died, in Pasadena, in 1988.
     I'm pretty sure that's all correct. There remain huge gaps in her record, however.
     First, I came across this New York Times article (snippet):
New York Times: Natacha Nattova and Nicholas Daks Wed by City Clerk.
     Natacha Nattova, Russian dancer, who has appeared in "The Greenwich Village Follies," night clubs and vaudeville, was married yesterday to Nicholas Daks, ...October 5, 1928 - Social News - Article - Print Headline: "DANCERS MARRY.; Natacha Nattova and Nicholas Daks Wed by City Clerk."
     I had already come across references to Nattova's marriage to a dancer circa 1927. According to one source, this led to her firing one of her male colleagues to make room for hubby. It's nice to learn just who she married: Mr. Nicholas Daks (b. 1899), an ethnic Russian (Russian Jew?), like herself, who arrived in the U.S. (from Constantinople!) in 1923. He likely was in her shadow as a member of her adagio company in the 20s, but, through the years, he seems to have become a well-known "Broadway" dancer and arranger in a career of some note that stretched at least into the 50s. (By the early 40s, he danced with a woman named Muriel. The two eventually married and retired to Florida.)
     I next found this marriage index record:

Name:Nickolas Daks
Marriage Date:4 Oct 1928
Marriage Place:Manhattan, New York, USA
Spouse:Natcha Nattove
Certificate Number:24342

     I'm guessing that "Natcha" is a garbling of "Natacha," though perhaps it is a variant of that name. The variation in the spelling of "Nattova" likely reflects indecision regarding how best to Anglicize the Russian (or Russian/Jewish?) original, whatever that was. (Hence, "Nattova," "Natova," "Nattove.")
     But I also found this New York naturalization record (Oct 1931) for Nicholas Daks:

     This record indicates that Daks married "Nathalie" on October 4, 1928—the day before the Nattova/Daks wedding report in the Times. It also indicates that Nathalie was born in Petrograd, Russia, in 1907. Our girl Natacha was born in Petrograd, Russia, in 1905.
     (Note to self: Recall that "Natacha" is a common nickname for Nathalie among Russians. See earlier discussion.)
     The upshot: it is highly likely that the famous Nattova of the period of 1923-1931, is the same person as the low-profile Nathalie (or "Natalie") Daks, wife of increasingly prominent dancer Nicholas Daks.

     Here's something else I came across: a border crossing record (U.S. to Canada) for Nathalie Daks, 1929:

Name:Nathalie Daks
Estimated Birth Year:abt 1905
Arrival Port:Windsor, Ontario
Date of Arrival:22 Sep 1929 
Birth Location:St. Petersburg, Russia

     (I shall assume that the above gender factoid is simply an error.) Here, Nathalie's birth year—1905—is the same as the one Nattova gave on the manifest for her 1925 voyage to the U.S. Nathalie indicates that she is a "dance artist," that she is married to Nicholas Daks, and that she speaks French, Russian, and English. Further, she is French by nationality and was born in St. Petersburg (Petrograd is the same city as St. Petersburg)—all things true of Natacha Nattova.
     This woman is Nattova. (Oddly, the record indicates that Nathalie was "rejected" by the Canadian authorities. See.)
     I mention all this because it supports the notion that the woman known as "Nathalie Daks" in the 1930s is indeed the famous 1920s dancer and model (and poet and painter) Natacha Nattova. As we'll see, other factoids/records—to be revealed momentarily—might raise questions about the identity of the woman called "Nathalie Daks" in newspaper articles in 1934.

     But first: here's something interesting. I came across a 1934 New York Times article indicating that Natalie (Nathalie?) sought an "alimony plea" re hubby Nicholas Daks:
Dancer Loses Alimony Plea. (New York Times)
     Temporary alimony and counsel fees sought by Natalie Daks, I dancer, in a divorce action against her husband, Nicholas Daks, also a dancer, were denied ...
November 18, 1934
        The larger story, here, is mighty lurid. It is laid out (to some degree) in this article in the LA Times, also dated Nov. 18, 1934:

     And here's something from the Brooklyn Daily Eagle published on the same day:

The Brooklyn Daily Eagle, Nov 18, 1934
     Before proceeding, I want to show you this travel record for "Nathalie Daks" for late 1933. Her DOB, birthplace, and other facts (in this record) strongly suggest that this Nathalie Daks is Nattova. In this record, Nathalie (who is Nattova) also indicates that she is married—presumably, to a Mr. Daks.

NAME:Nathalie Daks
PORT OF DEPARTURE:Boulogne sur Mer, France
PORT OF ARRIVAL:New York, New York
SHIP NAME:Statendam

     So Natalie Daks (aka Natacha Natova), on her return from France (Sept 1933), does not return home to Nicholas but lives in another apartment, though she later rejoins Nicholas. About a year after her arrival, however, she brings a lawsuit against Tatiana Tuttle, a Russian dancer married to a Hollywood director, for "alienating the affections of Natalie's husband, Nicholas Daks." Naturally, she is litigating against her husband, too, demanding alimony payments, though that effort fails. (Does this mean that divorce proceedings had begun? That the divorce had already been granted?)
     Given Nattova's celebrity up through at least 1929 (and likely into the 30s), it is odd that none of these articles mentions that Natalie Daks is in fact none other than the celebrated Nattova. If reporters knew only that she was bringing suits against Tuttle and her hubby (or ex-hubby), a known but not famous dancer, there is no reason that they would suspect that she, Mrs. Daks, is Nattova. Perhaps Nattova had reason to distance herself from her past and failed to point out to reporters exactly who she was.
     Could it be that this litigious Natalie Daks of 1934 is not Nattova? I raise this question because there are 1932 marriage records indicating that Nicholas Daks (or, at any rate, a Nicholas Daks) married another Natalie, a younger one born in New York.
     Here's something (else) peculiar: near as I can tell, our girl Nattova was still married (or at least continued to claim to be married) to Daks as of the census of 1940.

1940 U.S. census:


     It is clear that, eventually (perhaps in the 40s), Nicholas Daks married dancer Muriel Gray, who eventually died in Florida in 2009. Newspaper records indicate that Muriel and Nicholas danced together at least by 1941. (Daks himself died in 1978, also in Florida. I believe that he was still married to Muriel when he died.
     Puzzling, ain't it?

    In a record I found at Ancestry.com, this fact is recorded: that, in 1932, Nicholas Daks marries  "Natalie Schmit." That's pretty confusing (unless there's more than one Nicholas Daks in New York at the time, which would seem unlikely). 
     Here it is: 

Nicholas Daks
Marriage Date:
7 Jan 1932
Marriage Place:
Manhattan, New York, USA
Natalie Schmit
     Who on Earth is Natalie Schmit?
     I found this record in the 1940 census for "Natalie Schmit." Given her birth date and location (and address), it is clear that this gal isn't Nattova:

Name:Natalie Schmit
Estimated Birth Year:abt 1915
Birthplace:New York
Marital Status:Single
Relation to Head of House:Sister-in-law
Home in 1940:New York, Kings, New York
Map of Home in 1940:View Map
Street:Montauk Avenue
Inferred Residence in 1935:New York, Kings, New York
Residence in 1935:Same Place
Resident on farm in 1935:No
Sheet Number:7B
Father's Birthplace:Austria
Mother's Birthplace:Austria
Attended School or College:No
Highest Grade Completed:Elementary school, 8th grade
Hours Worked Week Prior to Census:40
Class of Worker:Wage or salary worker in Government work
Weeks Worked in 1939:52
Native Language:English
Social Security Number:Yes
Usual Occupation:Stenographer
Usual Industry:Public Works
Usual Class of Worker:Wage or salary worker in Government work
Neighbors:View others on page
Household Members:
Sam Eisen42
Anna Eisen34
Evelyn Eisen14
Harvey Eisen8
Sharney Eisen2
Natalie Schmit25

     If this Natalie Schmit was 25 years old in 1940, then she would have been 17 in 1932--not someone likely to marry a 33-year-old man (Nicholas). 
     In the above record, Natalie Schmit is listed as Sam Eisen's sister-in-law. Sam's birthplace is listed as: Russia. Sam is a house painter and Natalie is a stenographer. Despite the "connection" to Russia, I don't think this woman has any connection to Nicholas.
     So who is this Natalie Schmit that married Nicholas Daks in 1932? I'm beginning to think that the Daks who married in 1932 is not our Nicholas Daks.
     Here's another factoid: I did find some U.S. Census records for 1940 that indicate that the Natalie who lived under the same roof as Nicholas Daks in New York was Nicholas' wife (she is thus described) and that she was born in Russia, not New York. So I'm thinking that, despite the messy business circa 1934, Nicholas and Nathalie/Natacha stayed married, at least on paper (or for the sake of census), through 1940, and this Natalie Schmit has nothing to do with our saga.
     Maybe these people had a reason to list Natalie/Natacha as Nicholas' wife (in 1940) even though they had long been divorced (i.e, since the mid-30s). Perhaps, further, Natalie/Natacha wasn't really living in that building. (Maybe she was in Canada. Who knows.)
     I'm trying to nail down the date of Murial Gray's marriage to Nicholas. I know that Nicholas and Murial were performing together as of 1941. It would be odd to discover that these two married as of 1940 when records indicate that Nicholas and Natalie are married and living under the same roof in New York.

     There is a woman named "Natalie Schmidt" (note thd "d") listed in the 1940 U.S. census, but she's living at another house than Nicholas'. I am disinclined to pursue this person.

     One might suppose that Nicholas Daks divorced our girl Nathalie/Natacha some time before 1932 and then married "Natalie Schmit" (in 1932). The problem is that there are fairly compelling reasons to suppose that the litigious Natalie of 1934 is our girl Nattova--those reasons being that the Litigious One had just been in France, Nattova's original home (after escaping Russia). Surely, that gal was our Nattova, not a new "Natalie."
     For what it's worth, we have some reason to suppose that Nattova was litigious or at least that she was legally "careful." You'll recall that she went out of her way to register (copyright?) her dance routine and to announce to other entertainers her intention to sue anyone who copied her routine. Sheesh. One wonders how common that sort of thing was.


     Then there's this California naturalization record from 1955:

     Note the date of birth: 1905 (that's our Natacha's DOB). She indicates that her name was "formerly" Nathalie (she's lost the "h").
     I'm thinking this Californian is our girl Natache Nattova--formerly Mrs. Nicholas Daks. I'm  also beginning to think that she had some kind of peculiar arrangement with Daks up through at least 1940, and that she had little to do with the Mr. Daks.
     Here's yet another border crossing [immediately below]--this one from 1932. It pretty much clinches the fact that Natache is the "divorce" Natalie of 1934:
     Note that this 1932 "border crossing" record suggests that Natalie's move to Canada is "permanent." (See below.)
     On the other hand, it's clear that there's lots of fudging about biographical facts on manifests and travel records. E.g., birth dates are all over the place, even for men.

Name:Kathalie Gakkel Daks
Arrival Date:14 May 1932
Port of Arrival:Blaine, Washington, USA
Residence Place:New York City NY
Birth Date:abt 1909
Birth Place:Petrograd, Russia
Birth Country:Russia
Race/Nationality:Russia (Russian)
Record Type:Cards

     Here's the actual May '32 record:

     This Nathalie Gakkel Daks indicates that she was born in Petrograd, Russia, that she is a professional dancer, that she is a Frenchwoman who is Russian and that she is married to Nicholas Daks of New York. She indicates that she arrived in New York in 1925 (which is also correct about Natache).
     (Incidentally, she indicates that she is 5 foot 4 inches tall. I recall reading a comment from a former student to the effect that Nathalie von Hoyer was "tall.") 

     There is a California "death index" record according to which Natalie died in the LA area in 1988!

Name:Natalie Daks

Birth Date:8 Aug 1910
Death Date:7 Mar 1988
Death Place:Los Angeles

     Could this be our girl? Yep.
     Heres a corresponding Social Security death index record:

Name:Natalie Daks

Last Residence:
91109 Pasadena, Los Angeles, California, USA
BORN:8 Aug 1905
Died:Mar 1988
State (Year) SSN issued:California (1956)

     Curiously, the birthdays are the same—August 8—but on different years. (Pretty typical. I've seen DOBs for Natacha ranging from 1900 to 1911, and she seems to be behind some of this obfuscation.) The first indicates 1910 but the second indicates 1905 (which matches Natache's stated birth year on the manifest of her passage to New York in 1925; see).
     The death dates seem to match.
     These two records are of the same woman; and I'm pretty sure that woman is Natacha Nattova.

THE MISSING YEARS (1934 - 1955):

     But what was our girl doing from 1934 until 1956 (see above)? Was she living in Canada? Why did she move to California (Pasadena?)? What did she do there? (She would have been 51 years old in 1956. That's still pretty young.)
     Was she really living in New York in 1940 or was that some sort of useful fiction?
     In the 1932 travel manifest, Natalie/Natacha indicates that she lived in the U.S. from 1925 until May 7, 1932. Then, on May 14, she travels to Canada. Where was she during that week? A week is not enough time to travel to Europe. And, again, on these papers, she indicates that her move to Canada is permanent, though she indicates that she has no relatives in that country.

Nicholas Daks’ residences:

1927 – April
353 West 118th

1931 – Oct
9 West 69th

1932 – Feb
9 West 69th

24 West 71st in Manhattan

1940 (Nicholas Daks, 43 and Natalie Daks, 29)
West 53rd Street #40
The two are married, living here
This Natalie is likely Nattova

Directory: NICH. DAKS
1307 6Av CI rele 7-3739, Manhattan

Directory: NICH. DAKS
1307 6Av CI rele 7-3739, Manhattan

Nicholas Daks (same b date)

2780 Eastern Blvd, Baldwin, NY, 11510-4107

Saturday, October 18, 2014

Brief Natova bio

Brief bio of Natacha Natova, appearing in Film Choreographers and Dance Directors:

  b. Russia, circa 1900
     Fleeing Russia as a child with her parents during the Revolution, Natova eventually settling in Nice, France. Moving to Paris in her teens, she studied at the Paris Opera and was soon invited to join the company. Interested in the new “modern” ballet, she created an unique adagio act and was brought to American in The Greenwich Village Follies of 1926. She continued on stage, in vaudeville and was featured in the Folies Bergère. Also a painter and poet, Natova began creating ballets for theater (rather than concert) and when interviewed in The Dance, September, 1928, about her latest creation, she said, “This machine age in which we live fascinates me, and I want to interpret it. You will observe that my stage set calls for a mechanical contrivance. It is supposed to manufacture men… I am to represent electricity.” It is undocumented where her career went in the 1930s.

Film: 1929 The Hollywood Review of 1929—MGM (with Ernest Belcher, Sammy Lee, Albertina Rasch)


 From The Jazz Age Club re the “Lorraine Sisters”:
Then in the summer of 1925 [The Lorraine Sisters (Edna and Della)] were secured by the management of the Piccadilly Hotel in London for a new edition of the famous Piccadilly Revels cabaret doubling at the Kit Kat Club. They arrived in Liverpool on 26th July aboard Adriatic in time for the launch of the show on 7th August 1925. The cabaret featured Emile Boreo, formerly of the Chauve Souris company and the acrobatic dancing team of Nattova and Myrio. The Lorraine Sisters were described as ‘tall, slim and attractive dark haired girls’, they gave ‘simultaneaous whirls amid white feathers and frills’ and their graceful and clever dancing introduced ‘some of the best body bending and kicking, twists and twirls.’ Their stay was successful but brief and they returned to America in October.
Again, incidental:

Hamburg NY Erie County Independent 1928-1930 Grayscale


Variety, VOL. LXXXI. No. 8

Greenwich Village Follies
 Seventh annual edition of revue produced by the Bohemians, Inc., A. It. Jones and Morris Orecn, managing directors, at ChanIn's … lyrics and score by Harold L[a?]cy and Owen Murphy; staged by … Short: dancer directed by Larry … two ballets directed by Alezinder Uabrllov. [garbled]
. . .
There was a well known offer of a kingdom for a horse. The sponsors of the new "Greenwich Village Follies" would doubtless come through with a couple of horses for a laugh. Especially in the second part of the revue. The new revue is [a] sight and dancing show, and although generously enough equipped with comedians, the skits and bits are generally laughless.
 . . .
The dance sensation of the show came via Natache Nattova and Jean Myr[i]o, French team, discovered by Morris Green. Acrobatic and agile, they aroused enthusiasm in both parts of the revue, first with "White Cargo." The man drops the smallish Mlle. [mademoiselle] Nattova into the sea from a considerable height. A trampoline is used to break the fall. In the second act and near the close "The Moth and Flamo" also ended with Mlle. Nattova accomplishing a drop, this time in full sight of the audience. Kendall Capps also scored strongly with his dancing. He Is a corking soft shoe tapper, and acrobatic stepper. Miss Delroy teamed with him at times and it was good stuff.
Melle Nattova et Melle Dambreval Tirage argentique d'époque  (c. 1928)
The Brooklyn Daily Eagle, Sunday, March 25, 1934, Page 28
RKO's Natacha Natova?
Vaudeville News, 15 October 1927

[Incidentally, I came across this from 1926:

From the Nassau Daily Review, August 13, 1926
     That she was injured is not at all surprising to anyone who has witnessed her adagio act, especially the "Natacha as rope" part (see 1929 film).