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Jim Kershner’s this day in history

From our archives, 100 years ago

The headline was titillating in the extreme: “Denies Dancing Tango While Nude.”

Mrs. Marie Smith was seeking a divorce from her husband, Orchard Avenue contractor Carl Smith, whose attorney implied she practiced dancing without the encumbrance of clothing.

“Yes, I took lessons in what I call body dancing,” Mrs. Smith testified.

“Have you taken lessons in high kicking?” her husband’s attorney asked.

“No.”

“Have you taken lessons in toe dancing?”

“Yes, I took lessons to strengthen my ankles.”

And, yes, she said, she also practiced tango and ballet dancing, but when asked directly whether she had done any of this “while nude,” she denied it.

Her own attorney said that if it were a crime to dance, it would be “necessary to build a jail a minute.”

Her husband’s attorney further accused her of smoking a cigar while playing cards. She said she did it only because her husband dared her to.

“Yes, I took several puffs just for a joke,” she said, which caused general laughter among the courtroom spectators.

Mrs. Smith, in her complaint, declared that she had ambitions to be a great singer and that her husband opposed and abused her.

Mr. Smith, in his answer to her complaint, claimed that his wife wanted to go on the vaudeville stage and he could no longer afford to pay for her training.



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