Monday, October 20, 2014

Life's A Changin'

If you remember from Friday, June Roper was preparing to rejoin the Cochran production after a vacation but her mother, Elizabeth Roper, fell ill during an Atlantic voyage. Elizabeth was so sick June doubted her mother would survive the voyage. June wired a brother living in Kentucky to meet the ship.

Elizabeth remained in a New York hospital in critical condition for three months. She was pronounced well enough to travel and was on her way to the train station to accompany her son to Kentucky when she had another attack. She was once again bedridden - this time for a month.

It was impossible for June to return to London and fulfil her duties in the second Cochran revue. The weeks of stress and anxiety had sapped the young woman's strength and she felt her control over her future was slipping away.

When her mother could finally travel, June went with her to Kentucky where she collapsed and had to be hospitalized. The symptoms she was suffering included pain, depression and anorexia - conditions for which psychological causes had yet  to be explored. The doctors in Kentucky were convinced removing June's appendix would cure her. However months later, her advanced depression left her speechless. So the doctors removed her tonsils. (In later years, June described her condition as a nervous breakdown.)

Elizabeth's health was improving though and she would go on to enjoy another eight years of life.

June returned to Los Angeles and tried to regain her energies and re-establish her dancing career. As her health permitted, she worked with Ernest Belcher and served as an instructor in his studios. Performing however was more difficult. The effects of the depression were now being felt in Europe, causing many of the lavish revues to close. Those were replaced by the motion pictures. In the U.S., the entertainment field suffered drastic cutbacks so many road companies stopped touring.

For a while, June worked with William and Royal Stewart, to brothers who had come from the Belcher Studios. Royal worked in the film industry - he was the dance instructor who taught Shirley Temple and Jane Withers dance routines used in their movies.

William and June married but the marriage lasted less than six months because William began to display tendencies for violent behaviour.

Once again, I would like to thank the book June Roper Ballet Starmaker and its author, Leland Windreich for the information above.

I hope you find the beauty around you.


  1. Shows we can all fall prey to illnesses and have nervous breakdowns. Sad.

    1. And now she could have received the correct help and treatment but not so back then.

  2. I am so glad for modern medicine. Knowledge is a powerful thing to be sought after even if you have to learn on your own. Thanks Karen. Love your blogs. I am probably your number one fan. lol

    1. I do believe you are my number one fan Lee!