Murray Dance Studio
Suite 511-929 Granville Street
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Retrievevd March 9, 2010
Murray (April 4, 1895 – March 3, 1991) was a dance instructor
and businessman, whose name is most often associated with the
dance studio chain that bears his name.
Pupils of Murray have included Eleanor Roosevelt, the Duke of
Windsor, John D. Rockefeller Jr., Cornelius Vanderbilt Whitney,
Barbara Hutton, Elizabeth Arden, Manuel L. Quezon and Jack Dempsey.
Instructors have included well-known television evangelist D.
life and start in dance
Arthur Murray was born in Galicia, Austria-Hungary in 1895 as
Moses Teichmann. In August 1897, he was brought to America by
his mother Sarah on the S.S. Friesland, and landed at Ellis Island.
They settled in Ludlow Street, in the Lower East Side of Manhattan
with his father, Abraham Teichmann. In 1912 at the age of 17,
he began teaching dance at night while working as a draftsman
by day. He studied under the popular dance team of Irene and Vernon
Castle and went to work for them.
won his first dance contest at the Grand Central Palace, a public
dance hall where he later became a part-time dance teacher after
graduation from high school. The 1st prize had been a silver cup,
but Murray went home without anything to show for his championship
dancing. His partner of the evening took it, and it eventually
ended up in a pawnshop. This loss made a lasting impression on
Murray, and in later years every winner in his dance contests
took home a prize.
In between jobs as a dance instructor, Murray worked as a draftsman
at the Brooklyn Navy Yard and as a reporter at the New Haven Register.
He soon began teaching ballroom dancing to the residents of Boston,
Massachusetts at the Devereaux Mansion, before moving to Asheville,
North Carolina. At the outbreak of World War I, under pressure
of the anti-German feeling prevalent in the U.S., Teichmann changed
his name to make it sound less German.
In 1919 he began studying business administration at Georgia Tech,
and he taught ballroom dancing in Atlanta at the Georgian Terrace
Hotel. In 1920, Murray organized the world's first "radio
dance"; a band on the Georgia Tech campus played "Ramblin'
Wreck from Georgia Tech" and other songs, which were broadcast
to a group of about 150 dancers (mostly Tech students) situated
atop the roof of the Capital City Club in downtown Atlanta.
Murray was inspired by a casual remark made by William Jennings
Bryan one evening at the hotel: "... You know, I have a fine
idea on how you can collect your money. Just teach 'em with the
left foot and don't tell 'em what to do with the right foot until
they pay up!"
thought about what Bryan had said and came up with the brilliant
idea of teaching simple dance steps with footprint diagrams and
doing it by mail. Within a couple of years, over 500,000 dance
courses were sold mail order.
On April 24, 1925, Murray married his famous dance partner, Kathryn,
whom he had met at a radio station in New Jersey. She was in the
audience while he was broadcasting a dance lesson.
After their marriage, the mail-order business became less popular
and the Murrays opened up a dance school offering personal instruction.
Their business began to prosper, especially in 1938 and 1939 when
Arthur picked 2 little-known dances, the "Lambeth Walk"
and "The Big Apple", and turned them into dance crazes.
They were taught at large hotel chains throughout the country,
and the name "Arthur Murray" became a household word.
are now hundreds of Arthur Murray studios all over the world,
with specially trained instructors, making Arthur Murray the most
successful dance instructor in history.
The start of Arthur Murray Studios
His first business was selling dance lessons by mail, using a
kinetoscope. Though the idea was successful, he had problems with
the business, which failed. His second business was drawing and
selling "footprints" (an unusual use of drafting skills)
which prospective dancers could place on the floor and follow
to learn how to dance. This mail-order business remained successful.
His third business, launched in 1925, involved selling branded
dance lessons through franchising. He trained dance instructors
for the Statler Hotel chain, who then went to various hotels and
gave lessons; Murray kept some of the profits from each franchise.
This business was expanded more widely in 1938, when an Arthur
Murray dance studio franchise was opened in Minneapolis, Minnesota.
Others followed. His slogan was: "If you can walk, we teach
you how to dance", and the company guaranteed that the pupils
learn to dance in ten lessons.
After World War II, Murray's business grew further with the rise
of interest in Latin dance, and he regularly taught and broadcast
in Cuba in the 1950s. Murray went on television with a dance program
hosted by his wife Kathryn Murray, The Arthur Murray Party, which
ran from 1950 to 1960, on CBS, NBC, DuMont, ABC, and then back
to CBS. Among the Arthur Murray dance instructors in the early
1950s was future television evangelist D. James Kennedy, who won
first prize in a nationwide dance contest.
Murrays retired in 1964 although they continued to be active for
some time, even appearing as guests on the Dance Fever disco show
in the late 1970s. By then, there were more than 3,560 dance studios
bearing his name. In 2007, about 220 Arthur Murray Studios remained
in operation. Arthur Murray Dance Studios claims to be the second-oldest
franchised company (the first, A&W Restaurants, began in 1919).