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History of Arthur Murray

As the second-oldest franchise organization in the United States, Arthur Murray International, Inc. has gained worldwide recognition as a prominent entertainment company. Our franchises are situated across the United States, Canada, Puerto Rico, Europe, the Middle East, Japan, Africa, and Australia. As we enter a new millennium, social dancing has once again become a significant facet of popular culture, spanning all generations. Today, Arthur Murray Franchised Dance Studios carry on a tradition of over a century in the art of teaching the world to dance.

The history of Arthur Murray Franchised Dance Studios traces back to 1912 when a man named Arthur Murray, an iconic figure in American entrepreneurship and social dancing, initiated its journey. Murray was a pioneer in utilizing innovative advertising techniques of that era. His groundbreaking concept involved selling dance lessons through mail, one step at a time, which revolutionized direct mail marketing.

Murray’s ingenious approach to print advertising garnered national attention, as did his business acumen. In March 1920, he orchestrated the world’s inaugural radio broadcast of live dance music for dancing, using students from Georgia Tech to transmit music to a group of his dance students located a few miles away.

Before World War II, Arthur Murray instructors were a standard feature on luxury steamship cruises. During the 1930s, the studios introduced dances like the “Lambeth Walk” and “The Big Apple” to the public. Remarkably, it was “The Big Apple” that propelled Mr. Murray’s single studio into the largest chain of dance schools.

In 1942, singer Betty Hutton, accompanied by the Jimmy Dorsey Orchestra, recorded the hit song “Arthur Murray Taught Me Dancing In A Hurry” for the movie “The Fleet’s In.” By 1946, there were 72 Arthur Murray Dance Studios spread across America.

During the 1950s, Arthur Murray was the first to recognize the surging popularity of Latin dances in the United States. Numerous conventions were organized in Cuba during that period, enabling Arthur Murray dance instructors to gain firsthand knowledge of the sizzling new Latin styles and moves that were rapidly gaining favor and popularity.

In July 1950, Mr. Murray made a significant move by purchasing five fifteen-minute television slots on CBS and convinced his wife, Kathryn, to take on the role of the instructor. Even before the third show aired, Arthur secured a half-hour summer series on ABC, naming it the “Arthur Murray Dance Party.” By May 1952, the Murrays had already presented nearly 100 episodes on television. Their TV ratings soared, and in the summer of 1952, they entered into a partnership with their inaugural sponsor, General Foods. This immensely popular show captured the hearts of millions of viewers across the United States, leading them to visit Arthur Murray Studios nationwide. This beloved program continued for an impressive twelve years on national television.

Upon Arthur and Kathryn Murray’s retirement in 1964, a group of franchisees took over the company, infusing it with fresh energy and leadership. Under this new stewardship, Arthur Murray Franchised Dance Studios adapted to the ever-evolving “youth culture” and remain vibrant today as the world’s largest dance instruction organization.

Arthur Murray dance instructors can be found not only within their studios but also on Hollywood movie sets, backstage at Broadway productions, and collaborating with major entertainers to promote the music that inspires the world to dance. Whenever a film involves dance, there’s a good chance that AMII has played a role in some capacity. Movies like “Dirty Dancing,” “Dirty Dancing II,” “Dance with Me,” “Beauty and the Beast,” “Flash Dance,” “An American President,” “True Lies,” “Saturday Night Fever,” and “Scent of a Woman” are just a few examples of films where Arthur Murray instructors either taught dance to the stars or appeared in the film’s dance sequences.

The Arthur Murray Franchised Dance Studios’ name is frequently featured in prominent national magazines such as Vogue, Martha Stewart Wedding, Smithsonian, Sports Illustrated, Woman’s Day, and more. Whenever advertisers seek to connect with audiences through messages of romance, intimacy, or sheer enjoyment, you’ll find dancing integrated into their campaigns. This ranges from the famous Khaki Swing commercials by the Gap to dancing M&M’s and even on gas pump advertisements.

Arthur Murray International goes beyond its commitment to dance, with senior management actively engaged in the world of professional and amateur competitive dance, known as Dance Sport. Many of Arthur Murray’s executives have played a pivotal role in elevating competitive ballroom dance to the forefront, with aspirations of it becoming an Olympic Sport.

All Arthur Murray Franchised Dance Studios are independently owned and operated by individuals who began as dance instructors and worked their way up to executive positions. By the time they qualify to own a franchise, they have gained firsthand experience in every aspect of studio operations, encompassing teaching, supervision, marketing, and management. Ambitious individuals can ascend to high-level executive roles and become eligible to own a franchise within just a few years.

This commitment to internal growth has maintained the strength of the studio system, with franchisees deeply devoted to upholding the Spirit of Excellence, which is the hallmark of the entire Arthur Murray organization. Currently, there are approximately 250 Arthur Murray Franchised Dance Studios situated worldwide.

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