Russell Markert, who founded Radio City Music Hall's Rockettes and choreographed their high-kicking routines for 39 years, died Saturday at age 91.
Markert took dance lessons as therapy for a foot injury he suffered in World War I. A dancer in Broadway shows in the 1920s, he was performing in "No, No, Nanette" in 1925 when he went to St. Louis to realize his dream of producing a chorus line of tall female dancers.
The group he formed, the 16 Missouri Rockets, began performing in St. Louis and toured as the American Rockets. They attracted the attention of New York showman Samuel "Roxy" Rothafel, who hired them as Russell Markert's 32 Roxyettes.
When Rothafel was hired in 1932 to open the Radio City Music Hall in New York's Rockefeller Center, Markert and the chorus line came along and changed its name to the Rockettes.
Markert's routines were performed by more than 2,500 women.