Vicki Skubin Kaleck, 87, a dance instructor formerly of Northeast Philadelphia, died of heart failure Monday at her home in Ventnor, N.J.
From the 1950s through the 1970s, Mrs. Kaleck taught the mambo, tango, waltz and other popular dances at Wagner Ballroom, the RDA Club, and Palumbo's restaurant in Philadelphia.
She also gave private lessons to prominent Philadelphians, including Walter and Leonore Annenberg, Frank and Carmella Rizzo, Leonard Tose and W. Thacher Longstreth, who she said had three left feet, according to her son, Bruce Kanis.
Mrs. Kaleck choreographed shows at the Latin Casino in Cherry Hill and at resorts in the Catskills. Through her work, she met Frank Sinatra, Sammy Davis Jr. and other celebrities, her son said.
She became friends with Dom DeLuise and met Manny Kaleck, a food broker, at a party the comedian hosted. She and Kaleck married in 1970. He died in 2001.
Mrs. Kaleck graduated from Olney High School. During World War II, she was a machinist at the Philadelphia Naval Shipyard. She helped construct the gun turrets for the battleships New Jersey and Wisconsin and carved her initials in a turret on the New Jersey, her son said.
Later, she trained with women who were ferrying planes around the country for the Army Air Force, but the war ended before she could fly, her son said. At a USO dance, she met a Coast Guard officer, Sam Kanis. They married in 1949 and had a son before divorcing. He died in 2001.
She is survived by her son and a sister, Winifred Spector.
A graveside service will be at 2 p.m. today at Crescent Burial Park, Route 130 and Union Avenue, Pennsauken. Donations may be made to Pennsylvania SPCA, 350 E. Erie Ave., Philadelphia, 19134.