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Stage Name

Birth Name

John Tiller / Tiller Girls

John Tiller

(For Tillers Girls Roster see below)

Lawrence Tiller

     John Tiller, was a wealthy Englishman who produced amateur shows and danced as a hobby. It is said he created the Maypole Dance (He didn't) and the 'Pony ballet' then sponsored by George Lederer as well as introduced the straight line uniformity of dancing (The Rockettes originally were based on the choreography of John Tiller.) John started the Tiller Girls in 1885 in England after watching a stage play in 1883 called the Gaiety Girl. His troupe was the 'Four Sunbeams' who had a big performance at the King's Manchester Theater in 1890. The Sunbeam's later grew into the Tiller Girls. Tiller and his wife Jennie opened a Tiller dance school in Manchester, England. In certain shows a Tiller line-up Could be as many as 32 girls who were selected for uniform height and weight.

John Tiller died in 1925 but by 1926 (Casino de Paris - Paris en Fleurs program ) was called the Lawrence Tiller Girls, John's wife kept the school running until her death in the mid 1930s. The London Palladium also featured the Tiller (16) Palladium Girls, (6/1944, 1950.)

   The Tiller schools remained open and run by Doris Alloway, Barbara Aitken and R.J. Smith. In 1973 the Tiller school was taken over by the impresario Robert Luff, with Barbara Aitken remaining as director and choreographer. It is said it would have taken about three months to turn a experienced dancer into a Tiller Girl.

     Basically they do what is called a 'Tap and Kick' routine, which was originally called "Fancy-Dancing" but today is known as 'Precision Dancing'. The routines may consist of straight lines or geometric figures. Every tap and kick troupe has tried to steer away from Tiller's arrangements, but sooner or later conforms to Tillers methods. After John Tillers death, his son Lawrence continued the tradition ( Lawrence was not a dancer) however Lawrence dropped all the ballet training. John Tiller married Mary Carr (1855-1905) in 1873, and Jennie Walker in 1906, who passed away in 1936. Kracauer stated in 1923 'These 76 energetic women dance about in geometric shapes: "The regularity of their patterns is cheered by the masses, themselves arranged by the stands in tier upon ordered tier'.

   Other groups such as Tiller's were done by: Allan K. Foster Troupe ( The Roxy,) Russell Market Troupe, Gertrude Hoffman Girls, The Rockettes, Chester Hale Girls, and the Albertina Rasch Girls. The Cotton Club Boys and Girls also were known to use some of these methods in their dancing, as well as a dance called the Can-Can used Tillers ideas. The Ziegfeld Follies of 1922 featured the Tiller Girls in one of the acts and was Choreographed by Ned Wayburn.

   Tiller died in New York in 1925. His body was brought back to London and traveled to Brookwood on the special funeral train. I read that 50 Tiller Girls accompanied him on the train. In 1923 the Stage play Nifties of 1923 feature the twelve Tiller Girls.


Mr. Tiller Birth Place

Tiller Birth Date

Tiller's Spouses

Tiller's Offspring

Lancashire, England (J) 1854 - 1925 Mary Carr, Jennie Walker Lawrence Tiller
       

The Tiller Girls

Tiller Girl Name

Tiller Girl Birth Place

Birth Date, notes etc

Tiller Girl Spouse

Amy Knott ?? Tiller Quartette (1891) ??
Barbara Ling   Tiller Sextet circa 1928  
Bessie Cohen ?? ?? ??
Bunty Gordon     Circa 1940s    
Catherine Bartels   Tiller Sextet circa 1928  
Doremy Vernon     ??    
Dorothy Austin   Tiller Sextet circa 1928  
Eloise Hanford   Tiller Sextet circa 1928  
Elsie (Clark)     Lila's Sister.    
Gilda Gray     See page       
Helen Geer   Tiller Sextet circa 1928  
Helen Jane Greenland   Tiller Sextet circa 1928  
Lila Beatrice Clark     Died on Stage from heart attack, age 29    
Lucy Martin - Fox     Circa late 1910s. Danced with Charlie Chaplin Mr. Fox
Lily Morrill     3/1904-4/28/2010 (was also a Rockette) Mr. Morrill
Madge Vernon ?? Tiller Quartette (1891) Primrose
Margaret Holden (Jack)     Circa 1940s    
?Mary Patterson? Glasgow C.1920s/40    
Miki & Griff, aka: "The Tiller Girls"     Circa 1940s    
Patti Bell ?? Tiller Quartette (1891)  
Peggy Dorren   B.4/1913, Palladium Alf Hunterman
Virginia King     ??    
Wardle, Nellie   n/a  
Waugh, Edith     Maurice Chevalier, in Paris Mr. Flint
Yvonne Woodroff England C.1940s  

  • NOTE:
        The names in blue above are direct links (email addy) to family members who are looking for information you may have on their family member. Please ... check any info you may have such as Posters, Programs, Flyers, Photo's etc. and see if it lists any names or info on any of the above. If you wont take the time to check for them, why would they take the time and check for you, what goes around etc. You may answer a hundred before finding that gem you are looking for... If you do have that info, please drop them a note about it, as they may have some info for you as well. If you would like to supply me with the info or any additions to the above lists as well (I will post it here). It can help others such as yourself who may be able to investigate their family history further.

Dance Types

Dance Partners

Music Titles

Ballet n/a n/a
Buck and Wing            
Can Can            
Pantomime            
Straight Line Unit            
Tap and Kick            
Toddle (1925)            

Night Clubs

Theaters

Stage

Folies Beregere American Theater (1926 St. Louis) 1922 - Ziegfeld Follies of 1922
      Casino de Paris (1925, 1927) 1923 - Nifties of 1923
      Coliseum Theater (1952) 1924 - Ziegfeld Follies of 1924 (jumped rope)
      Empire Theatre (Moss's 10/7) 1925 - Paris en Fleur (Casino de)
      Fulton Theater (1923) 1925 - Ziegfeld Follies of 1925
      London Palladium (1944) 1928 - Three Musketeers
      New Amsterdam Theater (1922) 1929 - Rumpelstilzchen
      Olympia Theater (1917) Three Cheers ( Tiller Dancers)
      Palace Theater (1912) Half Past Eight (1940s)
      Winter Garden 6/10/1938 - London Palladium w/ Frank Sinatra
Tiller Girls Sextet circa 1928

Tiller Girls Films

Other Girl Groups

1927 - The Arcadians* Albertina Rasch Girls
1927 - Land of Heart's Desire* Allan K. Foster Girls
1930 - Raise the Roof (Plaza Tiller) Bluebell Girls ( Mlle. Bluebell)
1939 - Zasa ( Portrayal) Bradley's Rhythm Girls (1933)
1925 - The Merry Widow Casa Nuova Girls (1931)
1930 - The Floradora Girl Chester Hale Girls
  Copa Girls (Copacabana) 1940s
  Floradora Sextet Girls (1900)
  Francis Mangan Girls (1931)
  Hippodrome Girls (1935)
  Hoffman Girls ( Aka Hoffman nymphs, Gertrude Hoffman)

Other Chorus Girl Movies

Hollywood Girls, the (1936)
1930 - Whoopie Gertie Miller Girls
1931 - Palmy Days Gleason Girls
1932 - The Kid From Spain [DVD] Golddiggers
1933 - 42nd. Street [DVD] Goldwyn Girls
1933 - Dancing Lady [DVD] May Moxon Girls, Scotland (1930s)
1933 - Footlight Parade [DVD] Minstrel Misses, Wayburns (1906)
1933 - Roman Scandals [DVD] Rae Gordon Girls (UK)
1934 - Dames [DVD] Rockettes
1934 - George White's Scandals Roxettes
1934 - Kid Millions [DVD] Russell Markert
1934 - The Kid from Spain Palace Girls [Tiller], (1912)
1934 - Stand Up & Cheer [DVD] Plaza Tiller Girls [Tiller] (1930)
1934 - Wonder Bar [DVD] Sherman Fisher Girls (1935)
1935 - George White's Scandals Tiller Girls (PAGE TWO)
1936 - The Great Ziegfeld [DVD] Yama Yama Girls (1905)
1938 - The Gold Diggers in Paris (Florence) Ziegfeld Girls (1907)
1938 - The Goldwyn Follies [DVD]  
1941 - Ziegfeld Follies [DVD]  
1944 - Music In Manhattan  
1944 - Princess and the Pirate [DVD]  
1944 - Up In Arms [DVD]

Publications

1945 - Wonder Man [DVD] 7/1925 - Dance Lovers Mag ( Vol4#3)
1946 - Kid From Brooklyn [DVD]
1946 - Ziegfeld Follies [DVD] 8/21/1925 - Universal Weekly Mag
1947 - Secret Life of Walter Mitty [DVD]
1951 - Showboat [DVD] 1/1/1928 - Syracuse Herald (Tiller Sextet Photo)
1955 - Guys and Dolls [DVD] 7/11/1931 - Judge Mag.
1968 - Funny Girl! [DVD] 1975 - Natural History of The Chorus Girl (Parker)
A&E Biography - Ziegfeld [DVD]
  Book: 1988 - Tiller Girls by Doremy Vernon
   
 

Television

  Sunday Night at the London Palladium (1950s)
   

  • NOTE:
  1.   Special thanks to: John Clark for some Tiller info.
  2.   In 1949 the office of the Tiller School was under the gallery at the Ambassador's Theatre end, Upper St. Martin's Lane, West Street.
  3.   Tiller Sextet circa 1928.