What was Arthur Murray dance?
Couples of a certain generation know the answer to what was Arthur Murray danceBefore there was "Dancing With The Stars" and before kids picked up the latest dance steps by watching "American Bandstand," Americans learned to waltz, foxtrot and quick-step by watching Arthur Murray dance on TV and taking lessons at his studios across the country.
By the time he retired in 1964, Arthur Murray's name was synonymous with ballroom dancing and the business of teaching it.
Moses Teichmann was born in Hungary in 1895 and brought to America in 1897 by his mother, Sarah. Moses and Sarah moved in with his father, Abraham Teichmann, on the lower east side of Manhattan. As a teen, the tall but shy Moses learned a few dance steps from a friend and then "crashed" weddings in his neighborhood to practice and meet girls.
By 1912, Moses danced well enough to work part-time as an instructor. He took lessons to continue to improve and, at the suggestion of a dance partner, changed his name to Arthur Murray, a name that sounded less German in the tense times at the start of World War I.
While teaching dance in Atlanta, Murray studied business administration at Georgia Tech and picked up the skills that helped him master the business side of dance instruction. His first idea was to sell dance lessons by mail using a kinetoscope - an early motion picture viewer.
When that didn't pan out, Murray switch to selling dance lessons using printed pictures of footprints showing where to move them during the steps. This innovation was so successful, he quit teaching in person and focused on the mail-order business.
It sounds hard to believe now, but Murray also taught dance on the radio. He met his future wife, Kathryn Kohnfelder, in a radio studio and married her in 1925. As mail-order dance lessons became less popular, Murray opened a dance school with Kathryn. They expanded it across the country by training instructors and offering ownership through a new concept called franchising.
Murray promoted the business through partnerships with hotel chains which had ballrooms and guests looking to have fun on the dance floor. He also put instructors on cruise ships and got some great publicity when singer Betty Hutton and the Jimmy Dorsey Orchestra recorded the song, "Arthur Murray Taught Me Dancing In A Hurry" for the movie "The Fleet's In."
Arthur Murray the businessman never stopped looking for new ways to bring ballroom dance lessons to more people. In 1950, he created five 15-minute lessons to be broadcast on the new medium called television. With Kathryn doing the teaching, the "Arthur Murray Dance Party" became one of the early TV hits, airing for twelve years and bringing a new generation to sign up for ballroom dance lessons at the Arthur Murray studios.
Arthur and Kathryn retired from the business in 1964 but sold the studios to a group that retained the name and quality and expanded the franchise worldwide. The Murray's appeared as guests on "Dance Fever" in the 1970s and instructors trained by them have been involved in many Hollywood movies involving dance. Arthur passed away in 1991 and Kathryn in 1999, but their names and their studio are still synonymous with ballroom dancing.