Klondike Kate's real name was Kathleen Eloisa Rockwell. She, like many others came to the Klondike out of necessity. Her mother had divorced and she was left with the responsibility of supporting her Mother as well as herself. Attempting to do this she joined a travelling song and dance theater company that went to the Yukon.
When Kate first came to Alaska she was not well known. She was just another actress. What made Kate famous was her flame dance. For this dance she would come on stage wearing an elaborate dress covered in red sequins and an enormous cape. She took off the cape revealing a cane that was attached to more than 200 yards of red chiffon. She began leaping and twirling with the chiffon until she looked like fire dancing around. At the end she would dramatically drop to the floor. The miners loved it. She was a hit and was named "The Flame of the Yukon."
Klondike Kate traveled all over, doing her dancing routines. She boasted later of wearing $1500 Paris gowns and bracelets of purest gold. It was said she mesmerized the men she entertained.
While in the Yukon Kate fell in love with a man named Alexander Pantages. Pantages convinced Kate to help him buy a sting of theaters in the Pacific Northwest, and start their own theater company. Kate wanted to accomplish this as husband and wife. In 1902 they left Dawson and Kate started to travel a lot. During one of the trips she was shocked to find out that Pantages had married a violinist and taken all her money. Kate never forgave him.
She eventually settled in Oregon where she worked odd-jobs to support herself. Always clinging to her "Belle of the Klondike" reputation, Kate would pass out postcards and talk to people about her past everywhere she went. Fun-loving and kind Kate died in 1957.
© Copyright 1997 Elizabeth Beckett and Sarah Teel
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