At the age of 5, Nancy made her first appearance in a Kiwanis Minstrel. At the age of 12 (she was
probably America's youngest band singer), she made her eighth successive appearance at the 13th
annual Kiwanis Minstrel show staged by the Denton Kiwanis Club for the benefit of underprivileged
Nancy appeared many times with the stage band at the local college and with the organization at
high schools throughout this section of Texas; had been on numerous out of town programs sponsored
by the Chamber of Commerce and by the Kiwanis Club, and including Dallas and Fort Worth, and on
many programs elsewhere upon personal invitation from those in charge. She was featured on the
West Texas Chamber of Commerce program at Big Spring, had sung with well known orchestras in the
Showboat and the Den at the Tex-Venetian ballroom at the Blackstone Hotel, all with outstanding
success, and sang numerous times on state radio programs.
At the age of 13, she was featured with the “Crazy Radio Gang” opening Thursday on the stage of
the Orpheum theater.
At 15 years, she holds the distinction of having been on scores of civic programs in Denton and
over the state, sponsored by the Chamber of Commerce and other organizations and few at her age
have had as wide a stage experience.
In 1941, Nancy began the first lap of a journey to Dream World – movieland in Hollywood.
The petite 15-year-old singer and actress, set out from Denton for the real starting point of
that goal which is the dream of nearly every American girl: to be in pictures.
In the Southern Hotel, on the eve of her departure for Hollywood, Nancy Jane was presented
with gifts at a dinner given by a few close friends and associates in her work. Sixteen,
including men and their wives, were present.
Each person present paid a brief tribute to Miss Gates, from their association with her,
praising her talent, her gracious manner, her charming personality and her willingness to
render civic service to her community.
Another special guest was Floyd Graham, Teachers College music staff member and director
of the college's stage band and stage show, and under whose direction Nancy had done much work.
Miss Gates expressed appreciation for the gifts as well as for the courtesies shown to her,
and her parents, Mr. and Mrs. Virgil Gates.