Roxy’s Friend

Maria GambarelliThis lovely lady is Maria Gambarelli, prima ballerina. Miss Gambarelli was well known to New York audiences in the 1930’s for her dazzling performances at the Roxy Theater. In addition, she regularly appeared on Roxy Rothafel’s popular radio program, “Roxy’s Friends.” In 1932 the dancer organized a troupe of New York ballerinas for a grand tour of European cities, to promote America’s cultural image. Helen auditioned for Miss Gambarelli and won a part in the production.

Arriving in Paris the company, christened the “American Beauties,” opened at the exclusive “Le Ambassadeurs” dinner theater to favorable reviews. However, in a contract dispute with the William Morris Agency in New York, in association with the Lartique Agency in Paris, Miss Gambarelli abruptly quit. The eleven American ballerinas were left abandoned, facing an uncertain future on the continent.

For more of the story read River of January, available at

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