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“Dancing seemed to release my feelings from an existence of silence. A silent life can be as wonderful as any.”

This week’s #DeafHistorySeries is on the glamorous Miss Charlotte Lamberton dancer & “IT girl" of the 1930s and 1940s. A banner with blue background and white text saying Deaf His
Sometime in the early 1910s in New York City, a four old boy with copper hair entered a day school for deaf children. Charles Lamberton had arrived from Boise, Idaho with his grandparents to achieve his mother’s hope for education and speech training.

(pic: NYC deaf children) Black and white photo of six young children wearing school u
Twice a year, Charles made the long journey from Boise, learning to speak, read, and write. In 1918, he learned his sister Charlotte was also born deaf-mute. Not wanting to delay any progress, their mother decided to teach Charlotte at home through a correspondence course. Photograph of a smiling Charlotte Lamberton. She is a white
Charlotte would learn to speak and lipread. Her mother often pressed “her baby’s tiny hands upon her own throat,” repeating the “word ‘Mama,’ over and over again, compelling the little fingers to feel the vibrations of the vocal chords.” Mrs. Lamberton forbade sign language. Newspaper clipping of a photo of Charlotte looking at her mo
Eventually it became too expensive to keep sending Charles to New York. Giving up the family ranch in Idaho, the Lamberton family moved to California, where Charles and Charlotte would attend the Los Angeles Day School for the Deaf. They also received private speech lessons. Photograph of a smiling Charlotte Lamberton. She is a white
At six, Charlotte learned she could “feel” music vibrations coursing through her body. Wanting her two deaf children to be “normal,” Mrs. Lamberton enrolled them in dancing lessons & rented a rehearsal room for them to practice. A former dancer, she pushed for them to succeed. Studio photo of Charlotte and Charles in formal wear, posed
Two deaf dancers learning to coordinate their steps was challenging: they had to learn to time their steps to both the orchestra & each other, relying on just their senses of rhythm & feelings of vibration. Before their adagio debut, Charles had to quit due to a strained heart. Studio photo of Charlotte and Charles in formal wear, posed
Charlotte continued dancing. Her first solo appearance at 14 was at the Coconut Hollywood, where she was billed as “The Exquisite Charlotte.” She caught the attention of promoters Franco & Marco Company & soon was contracted to perform in Chicago, then to Roxy’s in NYC. Photograph of Charlotte. On top of the photo are the words D
In 1933, Charles was well enough to perform and join Charlotte in New York. They were a hit, taking offers around the country & marveling the crowd with their ballroom dancing.

Tragedy also struck the Lambertons: the middle brother (born hearing) was killed in a train accident an flyer for the dave apollon 1937 line up, featuring Charlo
A year later, Charlotte was signed as a feature dancer for a stage show. Her popularity exploded as newspapers reported on her beauty and flawless performances.

“People think it’s a joke when they discover I’m deaf,” she expressed in an interview. Photo of Charlotte smiling. she is posed in front of a mirro
“I feel vibrations of music through my body, mainly through the bass pieces attached to my fingers” to dance to “full musical accompaniment of orchestra or radio or disc record. My arms and legs act as sounding boards.”
Charlotte performed ballet, tap, acrobatic, and ballroom dancing. Her technique astonished orchestra leaders and players, as well as music teachers and dancing schools.

Artist D.N. Dietrickson even painted her portrait (pictured). painting of charlotte wearing a long black gown and holding
At 18, Charlotte joined the chorus at the Hollywood Restaurant on 48th and Broadway in NYC, a popular nightclub featuring showman Abe Lyman. She learned to lip-sync chorus, extending her original 2-week contract to 8 months. Newspaper clipping with the headline "New Night Club St
Though sign language was never allowed in the Lamberton home, as Deaf people attended Charlotte’s shows, she began to learn sign.

When the Second World War broke out, Charles left ballroom dancing to join defense work. Charlotte and Charles sitting and listening to a woman talki
Charlotte continued performing at the Cave Supper Club for injured soldiers visiting from various hospitals and occupational centers.

She worked at nightclubs around the country as the war ended. In 1946, at 28 years old she was earning $225 weekly. Charlotte in the lap of an injured soldier, holding her featFlyer billing for the Cave Supper Club featuring Charlotte L
I don’t know what happened to Charlotte—or Charles—after that. Newspaper reports are scant. Perhaps she retired & got married. Charles did, as there’s reference to him having a son.

Charlotte inspired deaf people, showing them that a career in music and dancing was possible. Formal portrait of Charles and Charlotte. They are both youn
UPDATE: Twitter is amazing.

Thanks to super sleuth @HStiles1 for digging up more information, and @DeafHeritageUK for introducing me to Charles' grandson @Jasonlamby (!!) here's some more details about Charlotte & Charles...
Charles was born on 16 January 1913 to Frank and Ethel Lamberton; Frances Charlotte was born four years later on 6 October.

Charlotte's last show was in Alaska in 1948. She left show business to take care care of her mother who fell ill.
After Ethel died, Charlotte moved to LA to live with her father. She also married Edwin Drolet on 17 October 1948 and became a housewife. She would later divorce and marry again.
Charles married and had a few children, including Jack Lamberton, the former President of the USA Deaf Sports Federation--named after Charles and Charlotte's brother who died. Charles died in 1970.
Fun fact! @Jasonlamby is Jack's son, as is Jonathan Lamberton, ASL interpreter for @NYCMayor…
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