Friday, December 28, 2018

Paula Ming, Dancer

Paula Ming Norris was born Pauline Ming on May 11, 1925, in Cleveland, Ohio. Her parents were Dea Him Ming and Jessie Wong. Dea was born in Kaiping (aka Hoiping), China on November 22, 1899 and passed away in April 1960 in San Francisco. For several years he was a Cleveland-based editor for the San Min Morning Paper in Chicago. According to the California Death Index at, Jessie was born in Illinois on October 23, 1904 and passed away in San Francisco on July 4, 1962. They were laid to rest at Woodlawn Cemetery

Left: Photograph of Jessie in a letter, dated April 30, 1923, to Dea

1940 U.S. Federal Census
Address: 3900 Prospect Avenue, Cleveland, Ohio
Name / Age / Occupation
Der H Ming, 38 [head waiter/restaurant]
Jessie Ming, 35
Pauline Ming, 14
Bobbie Ming, 9

Paula’s life was chronicled in the local newspaper. 

Cleveland Plain Dealer, November 22, 1929

Cleveland Plain Dealer, July 9, 1933
Child Actors Are Exposition Stars
Chinese and Ukrainian Juveniles Applauded at Ford Show.
The younger generation captured all honors at the opening presentation of the International Review last night at the Ford Cleveland Industrial Exposition at Public Hall.

In both Chinese and Ukrainian offerings, the children who performed captivated and drew enthusiastic applause.

Seven-year-old Pauline Ming sang an American popular song and danced a typically American tap danced to the unusual accompaniment of the ye-yan, which the Chinese think comparable to the violin, played by her uncle, Fred Wong.

Harry Wong played the woo-kum or bass viola and sang a selection from a Chinese operetta, accompanied by his brother, Fred, and by Ho Fook, who played the som-yin or banjo. Certainly none of the instruments looked or sounded like their American counterparts….

Cleveland Plain Dealer, February 14, 1934

Cleveland Plain Dealer, August 22, 1934
Pageant Includes Dance Spectacle
220 Dancers to Do Stuff on Three Special Stages at Court of Flags.
A regular three-ring circus of dancers, dancers in veils, dancers in fans, tap dancers, toe dancers, dancers in the garb of foreign lands and dancers in groups will feature the Plain Dealer Court of Flags Pageant to be staged at the night show which follows the opening day racing program of the National Air Planes at Cleveland Airport on Frida, Aug. 31.

…and Miss Pauline Ming, 8, of 2140 Rockwell Avenue N.E., who will present an oriental dance in costume….

Cleveland Plain Dealer, August 17, 1937
Three-Hour Show Is Planned for Chinese Relief Festival
An elaborate three-hour show, including a Chinese operetta and an American musical revue, three dance orchestras and a style show, is being staged at Public Hall Wednesday at 8 p.m. for the Chinese War Relief Fund.

… One of the Oriental novelties scheduled is a Chinese operetta, presented by the Hung Sing Co., a professional group of singers and actors from Chicago. There will be a style show by 10 Chinese girls, trained by Tony Marchetti, dance teacher.

Among the entertainers appearing in a variety revue are … Pauline Ming, one of their most promising tap students …

Cleveland Plain Dealer, February 11, 1941

Cleveland Plain Dealer, August 8, 1941
Swinging Up and Down the Avenue
Sixteen-year-old Pauline Ming, Tony Marchetti’s protege, who tapped her heels in the Chinese War Relief show last week, dances to Manhattan Labor Day to take a night club audition.

John Hay Ledger, March 13, 1942
(high school newspaper)
Femme Sports
The high scorers at the Trianon last bowling season were … Pauline Ming, 130 …

Cleveland Plain Dealer, March 22, 1942
Marchetti to Demonstrate New ‘MacArthur Dip’ Step
… There are three phases to the breezy number. They are highlighted by side two-steps, dips, some limber hip-pivoting, an amusing bit of business that used to be called the “jazz step,” followed by a gay game of “patty-cake” on your partner’s hands, a spinning airplane hop on the right foot, and winding up with a brisk military salute. If you have ever done the “Lambeth Walk,” the “MacArthur Dip” will seem even livelier in fun.

Marchetti taught it to his wife, his sister Julie, as well as Virginia Mangan, Mary Amata, Pauline Ming and Jerry Starr, all professional dancers….

Cleveland Plain Dealer, June 20, 1942

Cleveland Plain Dealer, July 17, 1942

Cleveland Plain Dealer, July 25, 1942
United Nations’ Flags Fly Today
Colors to Rise Daily on New Court on Square
Today in Public Square the flags of the 28 United Nations will be unfurled at 12:30 p.m. It is believed this will be the first such court of flags to be established in the United States….

…Music will be furnished by Lakewood Squadron No. 66. … The girls in native costumes and the nations they represent will be, as follows: …Pauline Ming, China …

Cleveland Plain Dealer, July 29, 1942

Cleveland Plain Dealer, September 3, 1942
Chinese Program Tonight
The Cleveland division of recreation will sponsor a Chinese program tonight at 7 at the Donald Gray Lakefront Gardens. There will be Chinese music by the Cosmopolitan Ensemble, American singing, dances by Pauline Ming ad a talk by Ben Seetoo.

Cleveland Plain Dealer, December 7, 1942

Cleveland Plain Dealer, December 20, 1942
Chinese Actress in Play
Pauline Ming, Chinese actress and dancer, has been cast in a Christmas play to be unveiled at the Cleveland Museum of Art auditorium today at 3 and 4 p.m. Written and directed by Dr. George R. Kernodle of Cleveland [illegible], the drama’s other leading players are Mary Ellen Miner, [illegible] Louie, Martin Buchanan, [illegible] Shannon, Helen Sharnoff Jaffe and Theresa Pebbles. 

Cleveland Plain Dealer, June 27, 1943
Marchetti’s Proteges Dance in Revue Today
“Variety Revue,” the seventh annual edition sponsored by Tony Marchetti’s Dance Studio, 1706 Euclid Avenue, will crowd the Little Theater’s stage at Public Hall with 200 dancers tonight.

This is the largest troupe of toe-and-heel artists Marchetti has ever trained for such a recital, the former vaudeville headliner and dance expert said. 

To lend more variety to his musical revue, he is sandwiching a dozen professional acts into it. … Pauline Ming in a Chinese tap novelty …

Cleveland Plain Dealer, July 25, 1943
Tap-stepping Pauline Ming, one of Tony Marchetti’s ace students who doubles as a junior hostess at the Stage Door Canteen, prances into Chin’s Golden Dragon Tuesday. She is hanging up her dance slippers in the fall to enroll at Miami University.

Cleveland Plain Dealer, August 6, 1943
Aid for China Relief Drive at Cain Park
When Cain Park Theater produces “Lost Horizon” next week, the local committee of United China Relief will be on hand to sell Chinese dolls, China Relief pins, China tea and toy pandas.

… Articles will be on sale at a booth near the theater entrance and during intermissions Chinese girls in native costumes will walk through the theater carrying their wares on trays hung from ribbons around their shoulders. This group will include Ruby and Lillian Hing, Mary Yee and Pauline Ming.…

Cleveland Plain Dealer, October 31, 1943
‘Blossom Time’ Stars Singing for Canteen
Shubert singers of “Blossom Time,” including Barbara Scully, Douglas LEavitt, Marion Bradley and Victor Morely, are preparing a miniature revue of show-tunes which they will present at the Stage Door Canteen today at 7 p.m….

…Tomorrow’s events for the canteen consist of radio’ Hank Keene, Pauline Ming in taps, Dr. Berger in magic, Peggy Scott, songbird; Jean Fallen, formerly “Miss Ohio,” and Verna Fix, with music by Gene Beecher.

At some point Paula moved to New York City. The New York, New York Marriage Index at said Paula and Edward S. Yee obtained a license in Manhattan on February 13, 1945. The San Francisco Chronicle, November 13, 2016, said
they had three children: Terry, Donna and Barbara. 

In 1950, at age 25, her early ballet training, and love of dance, resulted in her first professional job at The China Doll, a night club revue in New York City. [The China Doll closed April 1951.] Ultimately, however, the family moved to San Francisco, where Paula had relatives, hoping for better schools and opportunity. 

Once settled in California she never left. She lived briefly in Southern California, but ultimately returned to the Bay Area. Her professional dancing career resumed at the famous Forbidden City on Sutter Street in San Francisco.

Above: Photograph and caption from Arthur 
Dong’s Forbidden City, USA (2014)

The Chronicle said Paula worked at United Airlines from 1956 to 1988. 

Her second marriage was to James Malcolm Norris who passed away April 20, 1995. 

Paula passed away October 16, 2016, in Sacramento, California. An obituary was published in the Chronicle, November 13, 2016. 

Further Reading and Viewing
Sun Dance History: Dorothy Sun Murray Reminisces on the Forbidden City
AsiaTown Cleveland: From Tong Wars to Dim Sum (2014): page 76, Jessie Ming’s restaurant; page 82, photograph, Dea Ming is at the head of the table. Jessie Ming is on the near side of the table, third from the end.; page 102, photograph of Pauline Ming (age five) and Phyllis Wong (age two).

(Next post on Friday: C.Y. Lee, 1916–2018)

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