Beatrice Helen Blum
On July 4th, 2008 we lost a local legend, Bea Blum. Bea was born Beatrice Helen Dorsett on October 3, 1929 in San Francisco into a household of musicians and actors. Despite the challenges of the Depression, Bea's mother gave her dance lessons and a love for the arts.
At 14, Bea quit school and began a career as a tap dancer, performing in the nightclubs of Chinatown. During World War II, she was in a tap duo performing for the soldiers in what became USO tours, and appeared at Army bases throughout the United States.
By 18, Bea was dancing professionally in the top night clubs in San Francisco including Bimbos and The Copa. She toured the country in an act called The Kings and Their Ladies; Bea was the comedic tap dancer among a bevy of Glamour Girls. The highlight of her performing career was opening for Dean Martin and then Frank Sinatra at the Sands Hotel in Las Vegas in the Tommy Conine Trio: the hottest jazz tap act of the early '60s (this, during the height of the "Rat Pack" era).
In 1963, Bea settled down in San Anselmo, opened her own dance studio, and taught until she retired in 2000. During this time she choreographed numerous musicals at College of Marin and shows in venues throughout the Bay Area. Her performing groups, "The Von Tapp Family" and "Bea's Knees", made up of her students, won many awards and much acclaim. She even did a stint as president of the San Francisco chapter of the Dance Masters of Association of America. Many of her students went on to become professional dancers and earn their living in the theater or went on to teach what they love best: the art of tap dancing.
Bea's husband, Albert Blum, once a dancer and comedian in Vaudeville, preceded Bea in death. She is survived by her sons Barry and Joel Blum, granddaughter Molly Blum, brother Charles Dorsett, and a host of cousins, nieces, and nephews.
Bea brought her joy of the art of tap dancing to thousands over the years. She will be missed by all of them, as well as by long-time friends Estelle Salzman, Dori Green, Linda Levey, and Nancy Cardinali. A Celebration of her life is being planned - please contact Linda Levey.
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