The Rhythm Girl With The Red Hair: The Mae Ross Story


Born April 23, 1924 in Methuen, Massachusetts, (Julia) Mae Ross was the daughter of Robert and Kathleen (Butler) Ross. By the time she was six, Mae's mother had moved her and her sister June Rae to Portland, Maine. Kathleen supported her girls by managing a rooming house. After a time, the Ross family relocated to Boston, where Mae and June studied ballet, tap, ballroom and acrobatic dancing. At the age of eight, Mae added figure skating to her ever growing list of hobbies.


When Mae and June were teenagers, they moved with their mother to Los Angeles, California. While attending the Mar-Ken Professional School - which focused on show biz children - the girls hung around the MGM, Fox and Warner Brothers lots. Mae's fire engine red hair caught the eye of the studio execs and landed her dancing roles in several films, including "Music In The Air" and "The Painted Veil".  By 1940, the five hundred dollars she made a year was helping keep a roof over her mother and sister's heads.


Mae's 'big break' was a starring role in MGM's short-lived ice ballet at the Persian Room in the St. Francis Drake Hotel in San Francisco. Though skating had been nothing more than a hobby of her youth, she managed to turn heads on the nineteen by thirty inch tank enough to earn a part in an ice show at the Mark Hopkins Hotel. However, it wasn't until this self-made skater joined the cast of the Ice Follies that people really started to pay attention.



When she was performing with the Ice Follies, Mae was married to a skater named Bill Stine, who doubled as the tour's director and stage manager. A budding actor and assistant director in films, Bill helped promote Mae and skated pairs with her too.  She was billed as a 'rhythm girl', but she soon became known for her interpretive skating and ability to act on the ice. She played everything from a tightrope walker to a gypsy captive of pirates and even the 'Daughter of the Shah' in an act called 'Persian Festival' on the 1948 tour. When she wasn't skating, Mae was swimming, horseback riding, listening to Bob Hope on the radio and putting her airplane pilot's license to use.

Mae Ross and Bill Stine

Not long after Bill and Mae divorced, she hung up her skates and moved to Texas, where she remarried and became a mother. She passed away at the age of eighty one on April 10, 2005 in Midland, Texas... her time in the spotlight as one of the leading ladies of the Ice Follies all but forgotten.

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