LAS VEGAS (KSNV & MyNews3) -- She crushed the color barrier, crashed the party and did it all dancing. Now at the age of 82, Jean Idelle is burning up the stage for the first time in decades. News 3's Reed Cowan has more on the life of Jean Idelle who went from obscurity to headlining in Las Vegas.
Idelle was the first African American dancer to integrate the stage performing with white dancers.
She became a star but when her children came along Idelle traded dance shoes for her role as a mother.
Her story begins when famed choreographer Katherine Dunham discovered jean whose beauty made her a quick hit with audiences all over New York.
Until her very religious mother found out the dancing involved taking her clothes off, marching the budding dancer to church. She was encouraged when the reverend told her to go on and be another Lena Horne.
And she did. With her trademark ostrich feather tease, Jean Idelle became a star. The girl from brooklyn performed for white audiences at the height of segregation.
But after years of magazine covers, Idelle left the stage lights and chose to raise a family. Her trademark feathers were tucked away in a box in the attic.
And there they stayed until the burlesque hall of fame found her and flew her to Las Vegas to perform for the first time in five decades. The performer entered the theatre and took to it like a fish to water.