The amazing flexible Ross Sisters perform Solid Potato Salad

January 5, 2014 • 9:21 am

by Matthew Cobb

Here’s an amazing example of flexibility from The Ross Sisters, singing Solid Potato Salad, from the 1944 film Broadway Rhythm. Their body strength is quite astonishing.

Jerry was sure he’d posted this, but I could find no trace of it. If it has been posted here, well what the heck – watch it again!

The Ross Sisters WERE sisters. Wikipedia sez:

The Ross Sisters were a trio of singers and dancers consisting of the sisters Aggie Ross, Elmira Ross, and Maggie Ross (whose real names were Veda Victoria Ross, Dixie Jewel Ross and Betsy Ann Ross). (…)

The Ross Sisters were born in West Texas to Charles Adolphus and Veda Cordelia Ross. Shortly after they made “Broadway Rhythm,” they moved to Europe where they appeared in “Piccadilly Hayride,” a post-war London stage revue that ran from 1946 to 1948.They also recorded “Five Minutes More,” a song later covered by Frank Sinatra.

Betsy Ann Ross (Aggie) was born on June 26, 1926, in Colorado City, Texas. She married Robert “Bunny” Hightower, an American dancer, on January 11, 1947. It has been claimed that he was an alcoholic suffering schizophrenia who on one occasion beat Betsy so badly that she almost died. They appeared together many times on The Ed Sullivan Show and had a son together. Hightower was previously married to dancer Vera-Ellen, best known as Rosemary Clooney’s sister in the film White Christmas.

Veda Victoria (Vickie) Ross (Maggie) was born on November 8, 1927, in Roscoe, Texas. She married Robert Lamouret on April March 10, 1950, in Paris. She was later married to Bob Hender.

Dixie Jewel Ross (Elmira) was born on August 9, 1929, in Loraine, Texas. On July 10, 1948, she married Richard (Dickie) Henderson, OBE, (1922–1985). They had a son Matthew and a daughter Linda. Dixie died at age 33 on July 10, 1963 [7][8] and was buried in England.

There’s an amusing 14 year-old discussion on as to whether this is real (the OP, “Jenn”, says it’s fake “because #1, even the military didn’t film in color in 1944, and what these gals do is physically impossible.”) Sorry, Jenn, it’s real. And technicolor had been around for some time.

37 thoughts on “The amazing flexible Ross Sisters perform Solid Potato Salad

  1. That was an amazing display of athletic ability. I feel stiff and old now.

    I am always amazed by the variability of the human body. Strength, speed, agility, etc; things some are born with and are fortunate enough to have the opportunity to develop.

  2. Of course it’s not physically impossible: contortionists, like these sisters, have been performing such feats since Roman times. It can be seen live now in any Cirque du Soleil performance.

    It makes sense that they are sisters: being flexible enough to contort is due by your collagen being extra springy from taking up a coiled shape that is looser that most people’s collagen. It’s a genetic trait. Mongolia, for example, has an extremely high percentage of people with that form of collagen, and the highest percentage in the world of people who become proefessional contortionists.

    These sisters obviously have contortionist training: no matter one’s native flexibiity, you have to train to get to that level of performance.

    Check out You Tube for thousands of equally amazing performances.

  3. Yes, technicolor had been around for some years in 1944. Gone with the Wind was released in 1939, and I’m pretty sure it was not the first.

    1. According to Wikipedia, the first Technicolor movie was “The Gulf Between, which had a limited tour of Eastern cities, beginning with Boston and New York in September 1917”

    1. Vierotchka:

      The major question is what happened to the lumbar vertebrae of the Ross sisters later in life.

      I sent the Ross sisters clip to Professor Stuart McGill, the famous scientist of kinesiology and spine biomechanics at the Un. of Waterloo, Ontario, who holds that repeated flexions and extreme extensions of the spine can only lead to spine disasters.
      I am curious about what this famous scientist has to say.

  4. That stunt with the apple at the end was pretty crazy.

    Cool video, could have done without the song at the start though 😉

  5. Oh. My. Now my back hurts.

    Seriously, though, at 0:51 did I hear the word “groovy”? I could have sworn that that was a 1960s word.

    1. According to the OED, it was first heard in the 30s!

      3. Playing, or capable of playing, jazz or similar music brilliantly or easily; ‘swinging’; appreciative of such music, ‘hep’, sophisticated; hence as a general term of commendation: excellent, very good. Cf. groove n. 4b slang (orig. U.S.).

      1937 Amer. Speech 12 46/2 Groovey, name applied to state of mind which is conducive to good playing.
      1944 Sat. Evening Post 13 May 89/2 A boy or girl who is really ‘groovy’ is ‘skate wacky’ or a ‘skate bug’.
      1946 M. Mezzrow & B. Wolfe Really Blues 52 When he was groovy..he’d begin to play the blues on a beat-up guitar.
      1948 Cosmopolitan Dec. 163/1 ‘I pitched a no-hit game last summer,’ said Georgie. ‘Hey, groovy,’ said Sally.
      1951 W. Morum Gabriel ii. vii. 225 The boys have a groovy number they want to put across.
      1951 W. Morum Gabriel ii. viii. 243 It’s damned silly to say that. Just because I was extemporising Bach—feeling a bit groovy.
      1958 Spectator 11 July 67/2 That was a good and groovy.
      1959 Observer 1 Nov. 7/7 To-morrow I’ll tell him to go to hell, and what’s so groovy is, he will.
      1968 Listener 5 Sept. 307/1 There are a lot of guys going round with groovy hair-styles.

    1. Internet diagnosis: I would say she had something like Ehlers-Danlos syndrome (or a related connective tissue disorder). These people have hypermobile joints and some have vascular issues that may result in ruptured vessels or organs.

          1. Elmira Ross died at age 33 of a barbituate poisoning. Check Wikopedia. Technicolor, 2 colors, later improved to 3, has been around since silent films. The Viking, 1927 for example.

  6. One quick clarification:

    Any time a message on the forums begins with “Comment:” it means that the poster is putting up a comment that was submitted from an outside source rather than asking their own question.

    Jenn was posting something that had probably been submitted to Snopes via email or webform.

  7. Actually, what I find extraordinary is not so much the flexibility, but the balance and strength required from the one (at 2:05) who snakes down off that box to a surface two feet lower and then back up again. I would have said it was impossible in terms of simple mechanics to balance like that if I hadn’t seen it.

    1. Yes that was my feeling too. Perhaps because I have the stretchy tendons myself, the flexibility is less amazing to me than the sheer strength needed to do these things.

  8. As to the debate about authenticity, Let us not forget that “The Wizard of Oz” was shot almost entirely in color and that came out in 1939. Also, the military news archives are full of hundreds of hours of color footage of the 2nd world war. The rest of the people in th thread have already made excellant comments about the abiity of these girls being very REAL.

Leave a Reply