Obituaries : Rita La Roy; Actress, Model Agency Owner

Rita La Roy, screen actress, model agency doyenne and Emmy-winning pioneer television hostess, has died at the age of 85.

Miss La Roy, who was retired and living in Chula Vista, died of pneumonia Thursday in a hospital near San Diego, her daughter, Elyane Valdez of Palm Springs, said.

Born Ina La Roi Stuart, the actress began as a vaudeville dancer on the Pantages and Orpheum theater circuits. Her specialties were vaudeville staples known as the “frog dance,” the “peacock dance” and the “cobra dance” in which her feet and legs were tied together under a stylized snakeskin so that she danced by undulating her torso.


Her stage appearances in Los Angeles led to a contract with Paramount in 1927. Her films for various studios included “Dynamite,” “Children of the Ritz,” “Check and Double Check,” " “Blonde Venus,” “Sinners in the Sun,” “Fugitive Lady,” “The Mandarin Mystery” and “Condemned Women.” Her final film was “Hold That Woman” in the 1940s.

Miss La Roy operated the Rita La Roy Modeling School and Agency for years in Los Angeles. In the late 1940s, she wrote and produced her own television programs for KTLA, including the weekly “You’re a Star.” In 1948, she was awarded an Emmy.