Daughter of Percival Guy Taylor (a chauffeur) and Angela Taylor (housewife). Started taking dance lessons at age 8 and later at the age of 10 at the Murriel Abbott School of Dance in Chicago where she got her Tap training from Ken Murray. She would visit vaudeville house and movie theatres with her mother as a child and watched many dancers. While at one vaudeville performance, they held a children's amateur contest and June took 2nd dancing a "Stars and Stripes Forever" Tap dance routine.
While with Muriel's, they would perform in various summer fairs. At age 14 and lying about her age, she made her official debut at the Chez Paree nightclub in Chicago and became
one of the original " Chez Paree Adorable's." She stayed at the Chez Paree untill her 16th Birthday.
Taylor is quoted as saying: "I wanted to be another Eleanor Powell, another Ruby Keeler. I was going to outdo them. I had looked forward to dancing with Fred Astaire. That was my great ambition ... That was my ambition, to dance with Fred Astaire." In 1936, she left the Abbott School and started her solo journey, joining up with MCA ( Music Corp. of Events in America.) She was to become a seasoned Hotel styled nightclub dancer but for only a short period of time. Traveled the states as well as performing in London, Paris, etc., becoming very well known in London as a dancer. -taken from streetswing.com-
At age 20, after returning from London due to her expiring visa, her dance career was derailed in 1938 when at the Palace Theatre in Chicago, dancing with the Abbott dancers, she collapsed on stage. While at the Hospital she was diagnosed with tuberculosis in both lungs. She would spend the next two years in a sanitarium getting weekly numathoras (sp?) injections that she maintained well into the 1950's. Upon her leaving the Sanitarium, with no hopes now of dancing with Fred Astaire or even of being a professional dancer herself, she turned to choreography, and started touring with her own company ... the "Six June Taylor Dancers" that she founded in 1942 (Actually, it was only four dancers who started at the Blackhawk restaurant in Chicago, slightly prior to the official expansion of the six.)
Later, Taylor met Mr. Jackie Gleason, then a little-known comedian, at a Baltimore nightclub in 1946. Taylor gained fame with her choreography on Jackie Gleason's television series in 1966 and featured the opening 3 minute dance scenes to his show as well as some
nice overhead camera shots of the 16 "June Taylor Dancers (JTD.)" They basically did an updated classic Busby-berkley Broadway style chorus lines which featured various kaleidoscopic type arm and leg movements, shot from an overhead camera, that would became their trademark. Gleason gave Taylor great leeway on producing her numbers and on one show in 1953 Gleason and Taylor collaborated on ''Tawny,'' a ballet of more than 20 minutes with music by Gleason. Her dancers and choreography became a staple of Television shows.
If you were a dancer, especially a female dancer ( Yes, men were part of the extended troupe as well) and wanted to dance in the entertainment show business world of the 1960's, becoming a June Taylor dancer was every young dancers fantasy role on Television.
Though the name June Taylor is most associated with Jackie Gleason, Taylor made her television debut in 1948 on "The Toast of the Town" starring Ed Sullivan featuring her dancers in about 3 to 6 shows as early as his 3rd show as the "Toastettes." In 1950, however, her name became a household word when she joined the Cavalcade of Stars with Gleason. It was Gleason's idea of putting a camera in the balcony to film some of the kaleidoscopic routines that Taylor would choreograph.
She was most noted for her choreography of the June Taylor Dancers on the Jackie Gleason TV Show, which ran from the 1950's through the 70's, and in 1954/55 she received one of five Emmy Award's for television: choreographers. Gleason moved his show in 1964 from New York to Miami, where he could play golf all year long, and Ms. Taylor remained in Florida after the show ended. Taylor would became the Miami Dolphins Cheerleaders ( Starbrites) choreographer from 1978-1990 when she retired. Taylor originally used 24 girls who all were prior professional dancers to form the Starbrites. They would be accompanied by a brass band and her squad performed Broadway-style routines during Miami's home football games.
In May of 2004, living in Ft. Lauderdale, June Taylor died in a Miami, Florida hospital, apparently of natural causes, not TB. She is interned at Our Lady Of Mercy Catholic Cemetery, Miami, FL. She was 86 years old ( At age 20, doctors told her she would have only 3 months to live).