When life threw obstacles at Bev Dixon, he smiled and danced right past them. After all, dancing was Bev's livelihood growing up. Not only was it his livelihood, it was his passion, his dream and his life.
Through his dancing, Dixon achieved fame and a slight bit of fortune. But what Bev thought of the most were the tens of thousands of lives he impacted with his dancing.
Bev was a normal kid growing up in Tell City, near the Ohio River. Dixon worked as hard as he could to help take care of his family. Dixon did factory work, he did odd-jobs, but whenever he could he danced. Then one day Dixon's life would change dramatically.
"My brother had just graduated from high school," Bev said. "He told me to go out and do what I wanted to do in my life, that he was going to look after the family. I went straight to Hollywood."
In Hollywood Bev changed his stage name to Doug Dixon and immediately made an impression on the stars.
Dixon danced with the big names of the time, such as a young Judy Garland and her two sisters as well as Ethel Merman and Eddie Cantor. He danced in front of perhaps the most famous dancer of all time, Fred Astaire. Dixon was in a movie with Merman called "Strike Me Pink", a 1935 release.
Although Dixon was creating quite a name for himself among the elite group of stars in Hollywood, Dixon wasn't going to sacrifice his moral standards for the things that go on in Hollywood.
Dixon moved back to Indiana shortly after, but never gave up dancing. Bev taught dance classes while working in a factory in Connersville. Then, in the midst of World War II, he was called to the Army. Dixon danced in the European Theaters such as England, France, Holland and Belgium while serving.
After the war Dixon searched for direction in his life. Bev worked in the construction business for the next five years, but it wasn't the right thing for Dixon. Dancing was what Bev did best, and that was where his heart was.
Soon after Dixon opened his first dance studio. After the studio's students put on spectacular shows, Dixon's teaching style had became a hot commodity in the world of dance.
Bev started opening more and more dance studios. He opened his tenth studio, then his 20th, then eventually the number rose to 51 studios throughout Indiana, Kentucky and Ohio.
Bev's life would change again when he booked a one-woman-show performer named Gloria. Gloria's show was very popular throughout this part of the country. When Bev booked her he had no idea that less than three months later the two would be married. They were married forever more.
Bev and Gloria were partners in the Dixon Dance Studios. Their blend of talent and dance skills benefited the students even more.
"Every year we would teach over 5,000 kids," Bev said. "That was by far the best thing for me. I love dancing, but teaching was much better."
Dixon's dancers won several talent competitions on the Ed Sullivan show. They performed in front of hundreds of thousands of people winning countless awards and countless competitions. Dixon taught a member of the Mickey Mouse Club to dance, he taught a Broadway director and countless other people who went on to be in show business. Dixons dancers even entertained President Richard Nixon.
Eventually, in 1976, Bev was diagnosed with asthma and took it as a sign that it was time to get out of the dancing business.
In 1978 Bev and Gloria started selling their studios.
"We wanted whoever was going to own our studios to know our system," said Gloria. "We wanted to sell the building to the instructors who were already teaching in them."
As it turned out, all 51 studios were sold to the dance instructors who already worked at the studios.