On the brink of the Roaring Twenties, a New Rochelle girl and her dapper husband swept the country off its feet and onto the dance floor. Their glamorous, all-too-short career became a national preoccupation, as Irene Castle and Vernon Castle enchanted dance-crazy America with their innovative steps, good looks, and charm. Their storybook life together began during the summer of 1910 at the New Rochelle Rowing Club in Hudson Park.
Irene was born in New Rochelle in 1893, the second daughter of Dr. Hubert Townsend Foote and His wife, Annie. Their large red house was located at the entrance of Brookside Place until 1906 when it was moved closer to Beechmont Lake. Irene became an aspiring actress as a pre-teen. Her career was launched on the "local church and high school gym circuit," as she called the roles she performed for the city's charitable events.
By the summer of 1910 the New Rochelle Rowing Club was the hot spot of the city's young adult scene-setters. Irene was among them, as was a certain dashing 23 year-old Englishman, Vernon Castle, and following a brief courtship they were married. The newlyweds sailed off for the glamour of Paris where dancing as partners, their simple, elegant and innovative performance made them an oversight sensation. The success carried them back to New York and into the country's leading newspapers. Before long, Americans were doing their best to emulate the Castle's style and flair, on and off the dance floor.
The Castle reign was abruptly halted by World War I when Vernon was killed in a plane crash while training flyers at Fort Worth, Texas. Irene never found another partner but she continued to perform on state and screen and was the technical advisor for the 1939 movie The Story of Vernon and Irene Castle staring Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers. Much of her later life was devoted to the cause of animal rights until her death in 1969.
Related albums • See other albumsNew Rochelle Walk of Fame
Related locationsNY, Westchester Co, New Rochelle
Related peopleIrene Foote