Throughout November, KERA will mark the 50th anniversary of the John F. Kennedy assassination by taking a closer look at that fateful day, what it meant to the country, how it changed Dallas, and more.
Today, we take a look at one of Jack Ruby's most prominent dancers.
After 50 years, Nancy Myers is back in the spotlight.
In the 1960s, she was known as Tammi True, a prominent burlesque dancer at Jack Ruby’s Carousel Club.
But then her boss shot and killed Lee Harvey Oswald. And everything changed. For years, the stripper tried to avoid publicity.
But now she’s the star of True Tales, a film that takes you into the Carousel Club of 1963 “to witness events that led to one of the most infamous crimes of the 20th century.”
Myers was Ruby’s “No. 1 girl,” according to Dallas-based AMS Pictures, which produced the film. True Tales debuted over the summer at Texas Theatre, where Lee Harvey Oswald was found after President Kennedy had been shot.
Myers raised her kids while working for Ruby. She was a PTA member by day, dancer by night.
Today, Myers is in her mid-70s. She’s brash, blunt and funny.
“There’s a whole weird turn of events in this story,” she said in a video that promotes the film. “It’s just … who thought that I’d ever in the bowels of history?”
"I don't lie"
“True Tales is an adult-themed, fully-reenacted drama shot at actual locations (featuring burlesque performers reviving a once lost art), and driven by the never-before-heard testimony of Tammi True herself,” AMS Pictures says.
Myers hasn’t totally turned her back on the burlesque scene. On Nov. 29, she will join a local burlesque group onstage at the House of Blues.
She didn’t talk about Ruby or her stripping days for years because she didn’t like people asking her dumb questions and didn’t want to hear conspiracy theories.
But she participated in the film in part so that her family has a record of her life.
“I don’t lie,” she said in the video. “I’m pretty much a realist and I kind of tell it like it is, good, bad or indifferent.”
Tammi True, aka Nancy Myers, talks about her film:
"He was distraught"
So why did Jack Ruby shoot Lee Harvey Oswald?
[Tammi True’s] story doesn’t embrace conspiracies, deliver an exposé. If there was a plot to kill the president, “no way” Ruby was involved, she says.
“He was distraught, and he had the opportunity,” she said of Oswald’s shooting, while flipping through photographs and newspaper clippings at her Grand Prairie home. Her boss was downtown near the police station that Sunday morning, wiring $25 to a dancer. Minutes afterward, he joined the crowd awaiting Oswald’s transfer to the county jail and shot him with a .38-caliber Colt. …
After the assassination, Myers joined the mourning crowd outside Parkland Hospital. Two days later, she was watching television at home when a man wearing a familiar hat shot Oswald. Stunned, she called boyfriend Ralph Paul, and they drove to Dallas to talk with a lawyer.
She regrets never visiting Ruby in jail, never speaking to him after their last, friendly goodbye.
“I didn’t want my name in the newspaper. I wanted to stay as far away from all that as I could,” she said.
"Never an angel"
In True Tales, director Katie Dunn of Dallas-based AMS Pictures resists sensationalism in favor of Myers’ simple message: that Ruby was inherently impulsive and temper-prone, and curiosity alone led him to the exact place where he could act out any Dallasite’s anger at Oswald.
“Nancy really knew Jack, and this movie is about letting her tell her story,” Dunn said. “It makes the movie more legitimate. She never says Jack was an angel. It’s so much more real to say ‘this was a human being who did something stupid, and he took away a lot of answers for all time.’”
Myers’ neighbors had no clue about her secret life. During the day, she was a PTA member who baked cookies and helped out with school carnivals. “Our family sat down every day at 4:30 in the afternoon. We didn’t watch TV and eat. We all sat down and discussed our day. Then, I would leave to go to Dallas about 7 o’clock.” … The fame was exciting, fulfilling a lifelong desire to be in the spotlight and to be adored. …
The Carousel Club was open seven days a week. Myers worked from 9 pm to 2 am. The show consisted of four girls, each with her own 15-minute act. There was a band—a trio of drums, horn, and piano—that performed original music composed for each routine. ...
Tammi True’s routine had a reputation for being raunchy. “Other girls said I was the dirtiest thing they’d ever seen,” she says. “I could dance, but I could do it tongue-in-cheek. I learned a long time ago that I was little and cute, and I could get away with stuff other people couldn’t.”
When Jack Ruby shot Lee Harvey Oswald, Tammi True’s legacy would forever be tied to his club and his name. Her secret identity was revealed. “Nobody knew what I did until Jack shot Oswald. In the paper, they put my name, my real name, and I was devastated. My neighbors were great. I had lived there long enough that they knew I wasn’t a dipshit floozy. I was an ordinary, regular person. My kids took a little flack. One or two of their little friends weren’t allowed to play with them. The kids would say, ‘Your mom’s a striiiiper,’ and be ugly to them.”
Myers closes her scrapbook. “I never participated after Jack did that. I’d never go see him. I didn’t work the club. I had actually closed out to take off for Thanksgiving, and I never went back,” she says.
KERA wants to hear your JFK stories and memories. Email us at firstname.lastname@example.org. We may contact you or use your memory in an upcoming story.