Evelyn Tapolow Holzman, 91, performed in Broadway revues, owned dance school

April 20, 1999|By Joan Jacobson | Joan Jacobson,SUN STAFF

Evelyn Tapolow Holzman, a dancer in Broadway revues in the 1920s who later ran a West Baltimore dance school, died of natural causes Friday at Levindale Hebrew Geriatric Center and Hospital. She was 91 and lived in Northwest Baltimore.

The former Evelyn Calmen grew up in Baltimore, the daughter of an Orthodox Jewish store owner, and graduated from Eastern High School.

She studied to be a physical education teacher at then-Towson State Normal School, but dropped out in 1927 to study dance in New York and join the Earl Carroll Vanities, a musical revue that toured the United States and Canada.

In New York, she also "played fashionable supper clubs," including the Rainbow Room, as part of a dancing act, said a daughter, Arlene Levin of Boynton Beach, Fla.

Mrs. Levin described her mother as "an independent and determined woman" who went to Broadway against her parents' wishes.

In a 1972 article in The Sun Magazine, Mrs. Holzman described her delight in winning a spot in the Carroll review and her father's dismay at her profession.

"My mother told me the only time she ever saw my father weep was when he learned his only daughter had gone into show business," she wrote.

Later, when the company performed at Ford's Theatre in Baltimore, she recalled, "Out there in the audience were my parents. And sitting there with a wide, proud smile, applauding as enthusiastically as anybody else, was my loving Orthodox father."

Mrs. Levin said her mother was proud of her dancing career and, for decades, saved a trunk of silk costumes and tap-dancing shoes.

In 1929, she married Emanuel "Manny" Tapolow, an insurance salesman, and lived in the Reservoir Hill section of West Baltimore. Mr. Tapolow died in 1954.

In 1937, she opened Avon School of Dance in West Baltimore, where she offered lessons in tap and ballroom dancing.

"I can't tell you how many people I have run into who said, `I took dancing lessons from your mother.' It seemed like everybody learned tap from my mother," Mrs. Levin said.

During World War II, Mrs. Holzman knitted sweaters for the troops and later said, " `I wear glasses today because of all those Navy sweaters I knitted,' " recalled Mrs. Levin.

In later years, Mrs. Holzman was active in Hadassah and did clerical work for Chizuk Amuno Synagogue and several bands and orchestras, including Lou Ginsberg and Stan Bridge.

"She was very meticulous and everywhere she worked, she reorganized their files. If anything was in a state of disarray, she couldn't stand it," said Mrs. Levin.

Mrs. Holzman was a past president and recording secretary of Northwest Senior Center.

Services were held Sunday. In addition to her daughter, she is survived by her husband, Oscar Holzman, whom she married in 1982; another daughter, Patricia Simpson of Baltimore; five grandchildren; and a great-granddaughter.

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