Fonds F0542 - Jeanette Heller fonds

Title and statement of responsibility area

Title proper

Jeanette Heller fonds

General material designation

  • Textual record
  • Graphic material
  • Cartographic material
  • Moving images
  • Object

Parallel title

Other title information

Title statements of responsibility

Title notes

Level of description


Reference code


Edition statement

Edition statement of responsibility

Statement of scale (cartographic)

Statement of projection (cartographic)

Statement of coordinates (cartographic)

Statement of scale (architectural)

Issuing jurisdiction and denomination (philatelic)

Dates of creation area


Physical description area

Physical description

0.48 m of textual records
ca. 800 photographs
13 photographs : col. negatives
10 prints
8 videocassettes : VHS
7 objects : patch, pin, cap
7 maps
4 drawings

Title proper of publisher's series

Parallel titles of publisher's series

Other title information of publisher's series

Statement of responsibility relating to publisher's series

Numbering within publisher's series

Note on publisher's series

Archival description area

Name of creator


Biographical history

Jeanette Heller (1911-2008), dancer and performing arts worker, spent forty-five years in show business. Born in Paris, Ontario on 14 April 1911, Heller was the only girl in a family of seven children born to Samuel Heller, an immigrant from Lithuania who worked in the scrap metal business and served in WWI, and his Canadian-born wife Lena (Davis) Heller.
Her family moved to Toronto in 1921 and she first took dance classes at Lansdown Public School. Her first dance job was in a line at the Royal York Hotel by Hylda Parker. Heller left school at 16 years of age to perform small parts in pantomime and vaudeville shows at the Royal Alexandra Theatre in Toronto.

In the early 1930s, she moved to New York, and danced for eight years travelling across North America as a Roxyette, the precursor to S.L. "Roxy" Rothafel's Rockettes, at Radio City Music Hall. Her stage names included Jeanette Hallen and Jeanette Mansfield.
From about 1941 until 1945, Heller returned to Toronto to take care of her mother while her brothers were fighting in World War II. During this time, she worked in the circulation department at the ‘Globe and Mail.'

After her brothers returned from war, Heller resumed her career as a dancer working contracts across the United States and during this time became an American citizen. Heller spent 1946 as a United Service Organizations (USO) troupe dancer performing in American army and navy hospitals. In 1947, she went to Japan as part of a United Service Organizations (USO) troupe to entertain the occupation forces, and then to Korea during the Korean War in the early fifties. In 1967 and 1947 Jeanette performed on the CNE Grandstand. During the 1950s, she also danced in Scandinavia, the Middle East, Cuba – in Havana with Lou Walters before the revolution - and in various European capitals.
After retiring from in the late fifties, Heller remained in New York and began a second career in wardrobe and show production. She worked for the American Ballet Theatre, the American Repertory Company including acting as the wardrove supervisor for the European tour for the State Department, fashion shows at the Waldorf-Astoria, and Broadway shows such as ‘Guys and Dolls,’ ‘the King and I,’ and ‘Annie.’ She also worked in television, working on soap operas such as ‘All My Children’ and ‘One Life To Live,’ as well as ‘the Dick Cavett Show’ and ‘the Ed Sullivan Show,’ and involved other productions including ‘Sesame Street’ and the 1957 CBS Cinderella television special with Julie Andrews. Heller as also involved in the filming of the 1963 romantic comedy ‘The Thrill of It All.’

In 1975, Heller returned to Canada, commuting from Toronto to Florida during the winter for nine years to work as a wardrobe manager. After working for nearly two decades at the Jackie Gleason Theatre in Miami, Heller retired at the age of 82 in 1993. In 2001, she moved into the Toronto Performing Arts Lodge. She performed one last time as a Rockette during the 2006 Guinness World record for the longest kicking line at the Humming Bird Centre. In 2008, the ‘Limelighters’ documentary by David Hansen dedicated an episode to Heller. She died on 16 October 2008.

Custodial history

Scope and content

Fonds documents Jeanette Heller's activities as a dancer and career in entertainment with records primarily pertaining to her life as a Roxyette (Rockette), USO troupe dancer during World War II and the Korean War, and employee of many dance companies including the American Repertory Theatre Group. Records consist of photographs, newspaper clippings, programmes, annotated maps, correspondence, contracts, and a collection of Jewish recipes.

Notes area

Physical condition

Immediate source of acquisition


Language of material

  • English

Script of material

Location of originals

Availability of other formats

Restrictions on access

Terms governing use, reproduction, and publication

Finding aids

Generated finding aid

Associated materials

Related materials


The fonds comprises the following accessions: 2008-030. No further accruals expected.

Alternative identifier(s)

Standard number area

Standard number

Access points

Subject access points

Place access points

Name access points

Genre access points

Control area



Level of detail


Dates of creation, revision and deletion

2019/07/02 KCP. Created.
2020/06/01 KCP. Corrected accession number.

Language of description

  • English


Accession area

Related subjects

Related people and organizations

Related places

Related genres