Helen Curran Collection of Irene Castle Documents and Ephemera: Albums, 1917-1969
Fenner, Helen Curran
Fenner, Gloria J
Castle, Irene 1893-1969
.6 cu. ft. : 2 boxes
Irene Castle and her husband Vernon are considered to be among the forerunners in bringing modern dance to the United States in the early part of the twentieth century. Born Irene Foote on April 17, 1893 in New Rochelle, New York, she met Vernon, a British vaudeville actor and comedian, in 1910, and the couple w married in 1911. They moved to France where they gained notice for their ballroom dance routines. Upon returning to the United States, the couple rose to stardom with original dances such as the "Texas Tommy," the "Foxtrot," and the "Castle Walk." The Castles were influential in introducing ragtime to American society and elevating the music and dance style to a more sophisticated level. Irene is credited with introducing the flapper look to America, including bobbed hair, straight, loose dresses, and head bands. Upon the outbreak of World War One, Vernon left the stage to join the Royal Canadian Flying Corps. Meanwhile, Irene made several feature films, including the popular serial, Patria. Vernon was killed in a plane crash in 1918, and Irene never chose another dance partner and ended her public career in 1923. Irene married three times after Vernon's death. She had two children with her third husband, Major Frederick McLaughlin, and devoted her later life to humanitarian work, particularly in the field of animal rescue. She established Orphans of the Storm, a shelter for dogs in Deerfield, Illinois, and remained an active advocate of animal rights. Irene died in 1969. Helen Curran was creator of the scrapbooks. Helen's parents, Sam and Edna Curran, were managers of Orphans of the Storm animal shelter. Helen Curran Fenner considered Irene Castle a role model and they became good friends. The donor of this collection, Gloria J. Fenner, was the stepdaughter of Helen Curran.
One scrapbook of newspaper clippings and one photograph album about and of Irene Castle, notable dancer, film star, and animal rights activist.
Gloria J. Fenner Collection of Irene Castle Documents and Photographs, Archives Center, National Museum of American History