LOS ANGELES – Greek-American Nicholas Royce, Archon Depoutatos, professional dancer, choreographer, and philanthropist, died peacefully on January 16 in Northridge, CA. He was 96.
Born Nicholas Vlangas in Pennsylvania to Greek immigrant parents from Sparta, the family moved to Baltimore, MD, when Nick was a youngster. He made his professional dance debut at age 14 at the Lord Baltimore Hotel. Nick changed his last name to Royce when he began his career in the entertainment industry, eventually becoming a famous dancer and choreographer.
Royce entered the U.S. armed services upon graduation from high school and with his solo dance act entertained over 75,000 GIs in hospitals and on bases throughout the U.S. and Japan. He was introduced to the troops as the “Greek Fred Astaire in GI clothing.”
In the late 1940’s and 50’s, he won worldwide acclaim and became one of the most recognizable figures in the dance world with the Nicholas Royce dancers. The group had one of the top dance acts on the circuit, headlining in supper clubs and theaters and appearing on television on shows such as Ed Sullivan, Kate Smith, and Milton Berle.
In addition to his show business career, Royce was passionate and proud of his Greek Orthodox faith. He set out to expand the voice of Orthodoxy throughout the world with his ultimate goal to make Eastern Orthodoxy an integral part of American life along with the other major faiths. Noting the omission of Eastern Orthodox as a religious preference on military dog tags in World War II, he set in motion a letter-writing campaign that finally allowed Eastern Orthodox to be recognized and included. His activities in this regard were entered into the United States Congressional Record on February 6, 2008 by Congressman Howard L. Berman. The Congressional Record is available online: https://bit.ly/3nYDY2j.
Royce, in recognition of his efforts, was invested in the Order of Saint Andrew the Apostle as an Archon of the Ecumenical Patriarchate on March 3, 1985, the highest honor bestowed upon a layman. The Order of St. Andrew the Apostle which is dedicated to the defense of the rights of the Ecumenical Patriarchate. His work in the Human Rights arena is so extensive that in 1996, the University of Minnesota’s Immigration History Research Center added “The Nicholas Royce Papers” to their archival library.
Royce was a member of several organizations including the Television Academy where for many years he served as a judge for the annual Daytime and Primetime Emmy Awards and was also was a member of the Jazz Society of Los Angeles. As a thank you to women who had supported him in his various causes, Royce joined Women in Film, Hollywood Women’s Press Club, and American Women in Radio & Television. He wanted to support them in their struggle for equality in the entertainment business.
“I’ve always been an activist and maybe I’m a feminist. Besides, women have helped me during my life and I think I can help them by participating in their organizations,” he told the Los Angeles Times in a 1989 interview.
Dr. Anthony J. Limberakis, Archon Aktouarios and National Commander, released a statement which said in part: “It is with a heavy heart that we share the sad news of the passing of Archon Nicholas Royce… a true Defender of the Faith… On behalf of the Order of Saint Andrew, Archons of the Ecumenical Patriarchate we express our deep sympathy to his family with abiding faith in our Lord and Savior and with hope in His resurrection!”