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15 What happened to ballet dancer Otis Pearce?

otis pearce

Otis is the baby-faced man on the right, hiding behind a koala. The pic was taken in 1939 and Dolin, his male companion on the left, was listed as 5’7″ on a ship passenger list found by Misca  .. many thanks.

“His first name was Otis. His second name was Pearce, or maybe Pierce, as his name was often spelt.

He is the mystery man of the second Ballets Russes’ tour to Australia, the friend and lover of Anton Dolin, the 20th century ballet dancer who was the first Englishman to establish a major career as a principal artist, and who formed dance partnerships with Irina Baronova and Alicia Markova.

Dolin was his stage name. His friends called him Pat, short for Patrick although his full name was Sydney Francis Patrick Chippendall Healey-Kay.

Trawling through a stack of Ballets Russes’ press clippings, books, cables, personnel lists, and photos, I’ve put together an incomplete profile of Pearce who was listed as “an accompanying person” on the 1938/39 tour, along with a handful of others who were the spouses or children of dancers, or managers or choreographers on the tour.

The basic facts are these: Pearce was a rich American, born in December 1912, very amusing, good company, much travelled, a fabulous party host, had a “sweet baby face” and drove a large black Buick.”


“The Ballets Russes’ tour ended in Adelaide but the principal artists, including Dolin, travelled back to Sydney for a midnight farewell performance at the Theatre Royal on 27 April, 1939.

Among the ballets performed was a scene from Swan Lake in which Pearce made his first, and possibly his last, stage appearance.

In his book on the Theatre Royal, Ian Bevan described Pearce’s role as “the gesturing but non dancing Evil Genius”.

Pearce’s name is listed in the program as “a dancer”.

Most of the principal artists, along with Pearce, sailed from Australia to Los Angeles on the luxury liner, the SS Monterey.

World War II was just over four months away.

Dolin’s days with de Basil’s Ballets Russes were over.

In 1940, in the United States, he joined the new company, Ballet Theatre (now American Ballet Theatre), where he remained until 1946.

What happened to Otis Pearce?”

otis pearce

Anton Dolin, Irina Baronova, Otis Pearce, Australia, 1938/39

sm pic 2

1949. The unknown man post autopsy. His eyes removed and scalp lifted and replaced.

bold is mine

words courtesy of :

14 Comments Post a comment
  1. Clive #

    Hi Pete, Otis Pierce Born: 27-12-12 Died:7-85 Palm Springs Ca 92262.

    February 11, 2018
  2. Byron Deveson #

    I note that there is a chap, Otis R Pearce, born 1905 in Illinois, USA date of death unknown. His father was Fred Pearce 1872-? and his mother was Minnie MNU 1872-?
    Otis has a blood line that includes Thomas Jefferson POTUS, John Pleasants 1705-?,and Elizabeth Woodson c1658-1715. Otis also has Amerind ancestry.
    Hmm. A blood connection to US President Thomas Jefferson, the Virginian Pleasants and Woodson families. And Amerind blood. Where have we come across that collection before?
    IMHO Otis is certainly worth checking out in detail.
    Did he ever visit Australia? I note that he had a brother Rolla (sic) Pearce 1895-July 1963.

    February 11, 2018
    • Misca #

      Byron – I think your Otis R Pearce died 6 September 1974 in Flora, Clay County, IL. Parents were Frederick Austin Pearce and Minnie Frances Boyd.

      Regarding the ONLY picture available for Otis…Isn’t it something that only half his face is visible as he cuddles a Koala? (As everything to do with SM…)

      February 14, 2018
  3. I’m looking at big hands here ..

    February 12, 2018
  4. Courtesy Byron Deveson

    Based on some experience of tracing the genealogical connection between people sharing similar or identical mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) I think Mitochondrial DNA testing of the hair samples from the plaster bust of SM stands a reasonable chance of identifying close relatives of SM. It might take two or thee years because the present public databases of mtDNA connected to genealogical data is fairly limited at present. But the databases are growing quickly. Hair contains very much more mitochondrial DNA than nuclear DNA and DA’s team has already extracted mtDNA from SM’s hair and shown that SM’s mitochondrial DNA belongs to the H haplogroup (as does mine H1ag1) and Derek recently told me that his team are hoping to refine the haplogroup (sub-clade) data. If his team are successful in this, then it is just a matter of time before SM is identified. The mtDNA relatives would have a strong case in my view for the exhumation and autosomal DNA testing of SM’s remains. I am aware that identical mtDNA can be shared by relatives who are separated by up to fifteen generations. But such distant connections have never stood in the way of Attorney General Rau, and many others, granting ownership of archaeological remains to present day clan groups. Autosomal DNA testing, as opposed to mitochondrial DNA testing, is the genealogical gold standard. Mitochondrial DNA will be very useful in unraveling the identity of SM but it won’t be as easy as unraveling the autosomal DNA data. As an example my autosomal DNA links me to over 4,000 living people. These genealogical connections can go out as far as seven or eight generations and the sheer number of these connections means that there is enormous redundancy, and hence the potential error checking and error correcting attached to the associated genealogical information. Every match (ie. 4,000 in my case) can be cross-checked against every other.

    Courtesy Derek Abbott

    We have tried the hairs (re: DNA). The problem is that to blind search the man’s DNA cousins on genealogical DNA databases we need his autosomal DNA. But that is difficult to extract in sufficient concentration. That’s one of the reason we need an exhumation as his teeth would be a much better source. His YDNA and or mtDNA would be easier to extract from the hair, but that doesn’t give us the information we need to triangulate close relatives on databases.
    However, we did do a simple low-cost mtDNA test just to prove there is extractable DNA still there and we found the Somerton Man’s mother belongs to haplogroup H. Not that exciting because half of Europe is an H. But I was pleased with the result because it establishes that there is viable DNA there that has not been corrupted by the embalming fluid.

    Courtesy Byron Deveson

    I have just seen updated mass spectroscopy (MS) data for Somerton Man’s hair. The results show many anomalies and throw up many more questions than they answer at present. There are many leads to follow and I am sure that SM’s occupation and/or hobbies, and the localities where he spent the last two weeks of his life, will become clear when the MS data are fully evaluated. At present there is just too much to check and digest but there are two matters that seem to be straightforward enough to warrant immediate comment.
    First, SM’s hair contains what could be regarded as normal levels of the nuclear associated elements uranium 238, thorium 232 and lithium 7. I know that U238 isn’t the primary isotope used in fission weapons but it would generally serve as a marker for exposure to un-enriched uranium such as uranium mining and ore processing, transport and enrichment. The same applies for Thorium 232 and lithium 7. It does not preclude the possibility that SM was involved in other nuclear related matters because these do not involve ingestion/exposure to significant amounts of uranium etc. I will suggest to DA that uranium 235 MS data should be extracted and maybe the other lithium and thorium isotope data should be extracted as well.
    Second, SM’s hair contains abnormally high concentrations of both silver and gold. In general SM’s hair contains elevated concentrations of many elements, particularly metals that are associated with ore deposits of base metals such as lead, zinc and copper, and this suggests that SM might have been an extractive metallurgist – a metallurgist involved in extracting metals from ores, or a chemist working at an ore processing facility.


    Zinc is the third most used non-ferrous metal after aluminium and copper. About 50% of production is used for galvanising steel to protect it from rust. Zinc compounds and dusts are used in cosmetics, plastics, rubber, ointments, sun screen creams, soaps, paints, ink, fertilisers and batteries. Around 30% of zinc used in the western world comes from recycling.

    February 13, 2018
  5. Misca #

    Let’s blow up that little bit of ear available and compare!

    February 14, 2018
    • I’ll try, it gets fuzzy … and he does look tall, unless Dolin is shorter than most men.

      February 14, 2018
  6. What was said, Clive, don’t be shy.

    February 14, 2018
  7. Clive #

    In Mudgee Guardian states: Pat Cape pinning a rose on Otis Pierce, Boston… millionaire’s son. last Saturday and photo in a paper 01-05-39? Cannot trace any photo in NSW papers. On NAA, an Otis Pierce (Dob 27-12-12) arrived at Melbourne on “Maunganui” 25-03-39.-no departure date advised.

    February 15, 2018
    • He’s on the whiteboard, suspect number one … No-one else has better qualifications.

      February 15, 2018
  8. Misca #

    Dolin listed himself as 5′-7″ on a travel manifest in 1941.

    February 16, 2018
    • That means Blondie with the koala isn’t as tall as he looks …

      February 16, 2018
  9. Clive #

    Otis seems to have a ring on his little finger right hand?

    February 16, 2018
  10. Clive #

    See Sydney Morning Herald 31-12-38 Page 7. “Audience at the Ballet”. Apparently, Otis Pearce was going to entertain (whatever that meant) at the Carl Thomas Club.

    February 16, 2018

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