The History of the Rockettes

Written by Kim Reiner

Kim is the PR coordinator for Omaha Performing Arts, while in her spare time she writes at Oh My! Omaha, a blog for Omaha parents looking for fun things to do with and without their kids. She’s married with two energetic kids.

The History of the Rockettes

For more than 85 years, The Rockettes have been known for their unrivaled precision and athleticism. In anticipation of the Nov. 13-30 run of RADIO CITY CHRISTMAS SPECTACULAR Starring THE ROCKETTES, I gathered 10 interesting historical moments for you:

Russell Markert trained a group of 16 girls to make their show biz debut in St Louis as the “Missouri Rockets.” The group was inspired by the John Tiller girls featured in The Ziegfield Follies. Quickly gaining popularity, the troupe went to New York City to perform at the ROXY, where they were called the Roxyettes.

On December 27, at the opening of Radio City Music Hall, the “Roxyettes” shared the stage with the Flying Wallendas, Ray Bolger and Martha Graham. A year later, the first Christmas Spectacular was staged featuring the newly named Rockettes and a movie. The show included “The Parade of the Wooden Soldiers” and “The Living Nativity,” two numbers that are still performed at every performance of the Radio City Christmas Spectacular – with the same costume designs.

43 Wooden Soldier

A small group of Rockettes flew to Europe to perform for U.S. troops. In addition to traveling with the USO in the 1940s, the Rockettes co-hosted a War Bond Rally with Eleanor Roosevelt at Madison Square Garden.

The Rockettes performed in the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade for the first time.

The Radio City tradition of offering a stage show featuring the Rockettes and a feature movie ended. Beginning in 1979, only the Christmas Spectacular and a Spring Spectacular featuring an Easter Pageant were performed.


The Rockettes appeared in the movie Annie, playing their Depression-era sisters.

The Rockettes starred in the Super Bowl Halftime Show, a spectacle seen by more than 1 billion people.

The Radio City Christmas Spectacular went on the road bringing the New York holiday tradition to cities across North America.\

Radio City expanded the tour to 31 cities, marking the largest Christmas Spectacular tour in the history of the show. The Rockettes introduce a children’s pop-up book, featuring six iconic scenes from the Christmas Spectacular, plus a bonus 32-page hard cover story book.

The legendary Rockettes are honored in their 85th celebration of coming to New York City and making Radio City Music Hall their permanent residency.

85 years

The Radio City Christmas Spectacular will be at the Orpheum Theater November 13-30th, 2014. Tickets are on sale now at

For more information about performances coming to the Orpheum Theater or Holland Center, follow Omaha Performing Arts on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.


One thought on “The History of the Rockettes

  1. Pingback: Rockette Blogger Recap |

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