Jean Veloz: Lindy Hop virtuoso and dancing star of 'Swing Fever' dies at 98 in her LA home

Jean Veloz: Lindy Hop virtuoso and dancing star of 'Swing Fever' dies at 98 in her LA home
Jean Veloz was inducted into the California Swing Dance Hall of Fame in 1996 (Jeanveloz.com)

LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA: Dancer Jean Veloz, who was famous for her Lindy Hop moves, died on Sunday, January 15, at the age of 98 in her Los Angeles home. She had roles in movies like 1945's 'The Horn Blows at Midnight', 'Jive Junction', and 'Swing Fever' from 1943.

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Veloz's agent and friend, Rusty Frank, announced the sad news while speaking to the The Hollywood Reporter. "Jean innovated a style of swing dance that was admired around the world," Frank said, adding, "It was silky smooth and greatly contrasted the more jitterbug style prevalent during the 1930s-'40s. Every moment spent with Jean was a lesson on how to live a life. Her positive attitude was unparalleled, her love of people immense."

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'A Tribute to the Groovie Movie', an event organized by Frank in 2010, honored Veloz for her innovative contributions to her field. In the MGM musical, 'Swing Fever', Veloz performed the dance 'One Girl and Two Boys' with two servicemen, Lennie Smith and Don Gallagher, to the music of Kay Kyser's band, featuring Marilyn Maxwell. In 1943, Veloz performed the jitterbug in 'Where Are Your Children?' and joined Bob Ashley on stage for Jive Junction. She performed a dance routine with Arthur Walsh in the 1944 MGM short 'Groovie Movie' and with Dean Collins in the Jack Benny-starrer 1945 movie 'The Horn Blows at Midnight.'

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(JeanVeloz.com)
Jean Veloz had roles in movies like 1945's 'The Horn Blows at Midnight', 'Jive Junction', and 'Swing Fever' from 1943 (Jeanveloz.com)

Veloz was born as Jean Grinnell Phelps on March 1, 1924 in Los Angeles. She started training with her husband, Frank, at one of the schools he and his ex-wife, Yolanda, maintained for dancers. They worked together on choreography projects including 1953's 'Latin Lovers' and 1951's 'Valentino'.

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Veloz had a passion for dancing since she was young. She and her brother Raymond won a jitterbug competition in Santa Maria against 500 other dancers. She obtained a Screen Actors Guild card after winning a competition at Hollywood Legion Stadium, which helped her land a role in 'Swing Fever', as per Daily Mail.

(Jeanveloz.com)
Jean Veloz was well known for her Lindy Hop moves (Jeanveloz.com)

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In 1947, she married Harold "Babe" Davi, however, the marriage did not last. She then married Frank in 1963. After Frank died in 1981, she made a brief exit from the entertainment industry. In 1996, Veloz was inducted into the California Swing Dance Hall of Fame.

Veloz had recently served as a dancing instructor on the ABC series 'The Bachelorette' in 2016. She also co-starred with presenter Steve Harvey on NBC's 'Little Big Shots: Forever Young' the following year, in 2017. She had also participated in a number of dance events, the most recent of which was 'Rock That Swing' in Germany in February 2020, right before the pandemic started. She is survived by her niece Stacey.

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