Ann Stephanie, front, with The Roly Polys.
A FOUNDER member of famous comedy tap-dance troupe The Roly Polys, Ann Stephanie, who ran a dance school in Sandown at the height of her fame, died in Trinity Hospice, Blackpool, on November 26, aged 77.
Born in London, on January 12, 1935, Miss Stephanie enjoyed a long and successful career in theatrical dance as a Tiller Girl and going on to become a hit as one of the original members of The Roly Polys, who took the nation by storm on BBC’s Les Dawson Show in 1982.
The Roly Polys comprised overweight women who performed amusing dance routines — performing on dozens of top TV comedy shows throughout the Eighties and Nineties and in stage shows, revues and pantomimes around the world.
She was also went on to become a member of the successful dance troupe The Jelly Rolls.
Miss Stephanie, a former Sandown resident, who established the Footlights School of Dance in Leed Street, in the late Seventies, ran the facility until 1984 when her stage and TV commitments became too much of a strain on her time.
She taught all forms of dance, including tap and ballet.
She got her big break while she was working on the Island. In an interview with the County Press in February 1983, she explained: "I was chatting on the telephone with a producer friend and learned the BBC were auditioning for a TV show.
"I only went to London for the day out and treated the audition as a bit of fun. The next day, I received a contract. More than 300 dancers auditioned."
As a schoolgirl, Miss Stephanie attended the School of Russian Ballet in London and also taught dance for the Royal Winnipeg Ballet and the Italia Conti Stage School.
Her funeral will be held at St Joseph’s RC Church, Bridgewater, Somerset, on Wednesday.