About Corliss Fyfe Whitney

Corliss Fyfe Whitney
November 20, 1927 – December 13, 2010
Radio City Rockette and Rockette Alumnae Historian

Corliss Fyfe Whitney began dancing at age 3, performed at Carnegie Hall as a teen, and danced with the Radio City Music Hall Rockettes 1945-1953. At that time, the Rockettes were at the height of their popularity. Corliss, who at 17 was the youngest Rockette ever at that time, and the other “girls” worked year-round under the legendary choreographer Russell Markert, 4 – 5 shows per day, 7 days per week during the Christmas season. As a member of the Rockette Alumnae Board of Directors, Corliss also acted as unofficial Historian of the Rockette Alumnae. For many years, she wrote the Alumnae Bulletin, and provided Rockette families with historical and contact information not available in a library. Corliss spoke all over Long Island with her: “A Rockette Remembers” lectures and was at work on memoir.

Fire Islanders know Corliss as the founder of the charming general store “Corliss on the Bay” in Fair Harbor, which is now run by her son.

In 1992, after her third retirement, Corliss founded troupe of senior women called the Seasoned Steppers, through her association with Ms Senior NY America (she was a finalist the year in which she competed for the title). She loved to boast that most her her dancers bought their first pair of tap shoes after age 60. Corliss performed with the Steppers over 40 times per year, leading the troupe as recently as November.  She ended each show with her celebrated full drop split.

When her sons asked her when she was going to stop dancing she would reply: “When you give me applause when I put the meat loaf in the oven”

Corliss was hospitalized in late November suffering a recurrence of brain seizures that she found more of a nuisance than a drag on her schedule. While preparing to be discharged, her heart became arrhythmic and despite best efforts, she passed away surrounded by family.

She is survived by sons, Jeff, Chip and Scott Whitney, daughter in-laws: Michele, Aveline and Michelle and grandchildren Hannah, Michael, David, Chrissy, Maxine and Ava Lee, as well as Frank (also a Fire Island fixture as co-owner of the Pioneer and other markets), her husband of 58 years.

An elegant, ladylike figure who lit up a room with her non-stop energy, Corliss didn’t want a funeral but certainly wishes to be remembered. In notes written to her son a few months ago, she requested that “everyone who reads this to go out of their way to be nice to strangers; and when they do, just to say: This is from Corliss.”

Another bio: http://www.newyorksenioramerica.org/corliss.html