Florence Waren and her dancing partner Frederic Apcar dazzled Nazi-occupied Paris in the 1940s, swirling across the stage as one of the most famous ballroom-dance teams in Europe. At times they shared the stage with Édith Piaf and Maurice Chevalier. On many nights Nazi officers were in the audience.
Last month, Waren passed away at the age of 95, the New York Times reported.
Glimpse at documentary film about Waren's life created by her son
“I think she was very scared,” her son, Mark Waren, said in a telephone interview. “But I don’t think it was something she thought much about. It was simply what one did.”
A Jew in disguise, Waren had performed in a Nazi-held city where Jews lived under constant threat. Hiding other Jews in her apartment, she risked her own deportation to a concentration camp. She also smuggled supply guns to the French Resistance, according to the New York Times.
Waren died on July 12 at her home in Manhattan, her son said.
Born in South Africa, she immigrated to Europe at 21 to study dance. In 1939 she was offered a place in the Ballet Russe de Monte Carlo, but World War II changed her plans.
She eventually found a job dancing at Paris' Bal Tabarin Music Hall. She took the advice of owner and did not register as a Jew with the police. The club soon became a favorite destination of German officers, and there Waren teamed up with Apcar. Briefly, they were lovers.
According to the NYT, Waren had friends in the Resistance and began to help them, hiding and transporting guns, hiding Jews in her apartment or helping them find their way from one safe house to another.
After performing in Germany in a camp for French prisoners of war, she carried home a suitcase full of their letters to relatives, an act for which she could have been arrested.
Apcar saved her life in 1944 when he rented a house in the suburbs to hide her and several other Jewish performers after learning she was to be arrested.
After the war, Waren moved to New York, married producer and director Stanley Waren and abandoned dancing in favor of an acting career. Apcar also immigrated to the US, and passed away in 2008.