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Carole and George's dancing doubles



Two Carole Lombard films with George Raft from which publicity stills are shown above, "Bolero" (left) and to a lesser extent "Rumba," are often erroneously labeled as musicals. Actually, both films focus on dance rather than music, and both can be fun to watch (especially "Bolero," which features Sally Rand of fan dance fame).

And while Lombard and Raft had dancing experience and some terpsichorean talent, they were carefully replaced when things got a bit too hot and heavy. Here's some information about their doubles used in long shots, a couple who ranked among the premier dancers of their era.

They were known professionally as Veloz and Yolanda, short for Frank Veloz and Yolanda Casazza. He was born in Washington, D.C., in 1906; she was born in Manhattan in 1908, named Lolanda at birth. They met in the early 1920s, won some 40 dance contests together, and married before the decade was out.

Unlike Fred Astaire, whose background was the musical -- first on Broadway, then in Hollywood -- Veloz and Yolanda were ballroom-oriented; many of their dances were improvised.

In the early 1930s, the couple headed west, performed at the Cocoanut Grove and won the attention of the film industry. In between "Bolero" and "Rumba," in which neither received on-screen credit, Veloz and Yolanda appeared as dancers in the Burns and Allen vehicle "Many Happy Returns," where they were billed.

Most of their professional time was spent touring, and by 1939 they received the same popular culture honor Lombard had been given at about the same time the year before -- the cover of Life magazine:



At times, the couple returned to films. They did an unbilled dance in a nightclub scene in the Gary Cooper classic "The Pride Of The Yankees," and in 1943 they did a dance short for Disney, "Cavalcade Of The Dance," which received an Academy Award nomination.

They would have two streets named for them in the San Fernando Valley, and they would purchase and run a number of successful dance studios in Southern California. In fact, it was a reprinted story concerning one of those studios that inspired this entry.

One of the Los Angeles Times' blogs is called "The Daily Mirror," a look back at Los Angeles of the past. Earlier this week, the blog reprinted a page from the June 3, 1958 edition of what was then the Times' sister paper, the evening Los Angeles Mirror News:



I noticed this story near the bottom of the page:



I don't know how this turned out legally, but I do know that the couple eventually divorced. A daughter, also named Yolanda, also did a tiny bit of acting in her later years, including apparently appearing in one of the era's strangest-named films (1969's "Can Hieronymus Merkin Ever Forget Mercy Humppe and Find True Happiness?") as one of its strangely-named characters (Trampolena Whambang).

Both Veloz and Yolanda passed away not long after each celebrated a birthday -- Veloz in 1981, less than a month after turning 75, and Yolanda in 1995, only three days after turning 87.

Oh, and one more thing -- in the 1970s, it was stated that Veloz and Yolanda's participation in the Lombard-Raft films was a trade secret not known for decades. While their presence as doubles wasn't played up and they never received billing, they were known to have helped choreograph dances for the films, as this publicity still of Lombard with Frank Veloz makes clear:

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