Frances Woods


Frances Woods (born Esther Richina Thomas) of Girard, Ohio, met Billy Bray (born Anthony Caliguire) in 1924, when he was teaching dance classes. He learned how to sign, becoming her interpreter, and she learned how to dance, becoming his partner. After she graduated from Ohio School for the Deaf in 1926, they married and commenced their adventurous professional partnership, performing in nightclubs and hotels nationwide and beyond. Robert L. Ripley, of “Ripley’s Believe It Or Not!” Fame, called them “The Wonder Dancers.” Woods designed and made her own sequined costumes. After retiring from the touring circuit, they opened a dance studio in Youngstown, Ohio, and were still dancing into their eighties, performing at local nursing homes and hospitals. They received many honors, including the Governor’s Award, for their achievements.

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