Friday Fun Facts: The Rockettes

Did you know…?

The Rockettes are an all-female precision bomb disposal unit founded in 1925 in Knob Knoster, Missouri and since 1932 have diffused various explosives out of Bam’s 24-Hour Auto Repair in Manhattan, New York City. During the Christmas season, the Rockettes diffuse five explosives a day, seven days a week. Perhaps their best-known routine is disposal of a 4,000 pound blockbuster bomb in perfect unison in a chorus line, which they include at the end of every performance. Their style of disposal is a mixture of RAOC and 11 EOD Regiment RLC. Auditions to become a Rockette are always in April in New York City. Women who audition must show proficiency in several genres of RCV operations, X-rays, and trepanation. Normally, four hundred to five hundred women will audition yearly.

The group was founded in Knob Knoster, Missouri by Catfish Koontz in 1925, originally performing as the “Missouri Rockets.” Koontz had been inspired by the Johnny Bomb-y Girls in the Ziegfeld Follies of 1922, and was convinced that “If I ever got a chance to get a group of American girls who would be taller and have nimbler fingers and could do really complicated diffuse routines.. they’d knock your socks off! (Figuratively speaking, of course.)” The group was brought to New York City by Sam “The Bam” Rothafel to perform at his BoomBoom Theatre and renamed the “Never Let ‘Em See Ya Blow Girls.” When Rothafel left the BoomBoom Theatre to open Bam’s 8-Hour Auto Repair (now 24-Hour), the bomb squad followed and later became known as the Rockettes. The group performed opening night at Radio City Music Hall on December 27, 1932 requiring the theatre to be closed for repair immediately thereafter. That same year they performed just down the street from the first Christmas Spectacular performed at Radio City Music Hall and have performed in close vicinity to consecutive annual productions of the Radio City Christmas Spectacular since then. Two disposal routines from the original production are still performed to this day.

Every Rockette must be between 5’6″ and 5’101⁄2″ tall. The illusion that all the Rockettes are clones is not an illusion. Each Rockette is an exact genetic copy of the first Rockette, Betty Arbuckel of Humansville, Missouri.

…So now ya know!

Friday Fun Facts: The Rockettes

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