Oldest Living Rockette Turns 102

Centenarian Florence “Flip” Manne received an award of recognition from Mayor Konstantine Anthony Monday, her 102nd birthday. - Photos by Maryellen McMahon / Burbank Leader

From a kick line on stage at the Radio City Music Hall to riding horseback on a ranch in San Fernando, Florence “Flip” Manne, now the oldest living Rockette, turned 102 years old in Burbank Monday.
The talented centenarian was joined by dozens of friends and residents of Ivy Park senior community for her birthday celebration, where Burbank Mayor Konstantine Anthony presented Manne with a certificate of recognition for her milestone.
Known for being the masters of the synchronized kick line, New York City’s Rockettes are American icons. During her career with the precision dance company, Manne performed hundreds of numbers on stage, and even danced at President Franklin Roosevelt’s 59th birthday ball.
Manne had a passion for dancing since childhood. Born in Vermont, she fell in love with dance at the age of 12. She worked hard at it in her early years and graduated from the Chester Hale School of Ballet Dance.

Florence “Flip” Manne poses on stage as a Rockette.

At 17, she left home and made her way to New York City alone to pursue a career in dance. Her first job was at the Roxy Theatre. She recalled her first performance on stage at the Roxy in an interview with the Leader.
“I remember standing on stage and looking out at the audience’s thinking: I’m here,” she said.
Her performances at the Roxy began in 1939. Just two years later, Manne found herself on stage at the Radio City Music Hall. She had made the line on the Rockettes, a feat that required enormous discipline. She performed with the group for five years.
She danced as a Rockette from 1941 to 1946 but took time off while her husband served in the Coast Guard during WWII. In 1943, she married jazz musician Shelly Manne, who was known for his contributions to the West Coast school of jazz and played as a drummer in hundreds of film soundtracks.
The couple moved to San Fernando in 1951, where they purchased a ranch and raised horses. A lifelong horse lover, and a rider from a young age, horses were her second passion.
Manne continued to dance for decades and is still known to bust a move, said Krista Cheshire, activity coordinator at Ivy Park. Manne credits her long life to a daily routine of exercise and healthy eating.
She served as the president of the L.A. Jazz Society from 2003 to 2019 and was given the title of honorary chairman of the board after her retirement from the organization at the age of 98.
Manne spent her birthday with more than 20 of her close, longtime friends from the L.A. Jazz Society, who attended the celebration. The guests were entertained by a dance troupe who performed during the celebration alongside a jazz trio, The Swingin’ Three. They also watched videos and photos of Manne dancing through the community’s VR system.
“All of this, just for me?” Manne asked during the festivities. “It’s just wonderful to have all of my friends here.”

Florence “Flip” Manne at her 102nd birthday party at Ivy Park in Burbank.

First published in the May 6 print issue of the Burbank Leader.