Tuesday, July 28, 2009

The Mysterious Case of the Three Nicks

Hootenanny Hoot (1963, MGM)
dir.: Gene Nelson
Nick Novarro as Jed Morse
Pam Austin as Billie-Joe Henley

Nick Novarro has exactly two recorded entries on imdb.com: Hootenanny Hoot (1963), a country-themed musical for MGM; and Scream of the Butterfly (1965), a low-budget shocker with a surprising twist (Nick's character is a gay-for-pay gigolo). That's it. No biographical info. No other credits. And it made us curious: how do you go from being featured in an MGM musical (albeit a Katzman unit quickie) to a seedy, barely-distributed exploitation flick in just over a year? Even more puzzling: with a face and frame which still inspires lustful admiration from contemporary viewers who have belatedly discovered Scream of the Butterfly as a cult film, how do you completely disappear into anonymity?

With a little investigative research (okay, Googling) we discovered something: the lithsome Nick, although credited as "Novarro" in both films, was listed as "Navarro" in some of the advertising copy.

A ha!

Nick Navarro has a still-brief, yet somewhat more extensive list of credits as a dancer and choreographer, which would fit in with his role as a high-kickin' hootenanny hooter. He also was sometimes billed under what we assume is his given name, Nick Covacevich - which is how he appeared in West Side Story (1961) as "Toro."

Dancer Kathy Kroll also lent some tantalizing clues, crediting Nick Navarro on her website among the choreographers she worked with over the years, including the Bare Touch of Vegas revue from 1978-80.

And then the trail goes cold again. The last credit we can find is as choreographer for LaToya Jackson's Playboy Celebrity Centerfold home video, which we can only assume is no better than Scream of the Butterfly. Nick Novarro, Navarro, or Covacevich, if you're reading this, inquiring minds want to know where and how you are.


  1. Mysterious Case of the Three Nicks?

    Or Night of a Thousand Stevies?

  2. Very good work! You're right up there with Sabrina, Jill & Kelly!

  3. From the Santa Barbara Transit website, could it be him:
    "Nick Covacevich lives in Santa Barbara and works in Goleta. He doesn't own a car, so depends on his feet, a bicycle and the Metropolitan Transit District (MTD) buses to get around. The problem is that he works until 8:00 PM. He bikes to the MTD terminal and uses an express Route 12 bus with bike racks to get to work, but at night, Route 12 buses have stopped running, and the slower Route 11 buses sometimes have racks and sometimes don't. So he sometimes has to bike 12 miles home."

  4. Last I heard of him was around 1982 ish He was want to set up a place for dancers to center themselves and get healthy and had some land outside of Vegas for that purpose. Last time I saw him face to face would be at my house in Vegas around 1975. He was working with Juliet Prowse then.

  5. Also I found this about his daughter: One of the "X" girl standouts, Brianna Navarro, comes from a local dancing dynasty started by her father, Nick Navarro, who was the lead dancer and choreographer for the legendary Juliet Prowse. He also performed in the films "West Side Story" and "My Fair Lady."

    Pasted from

  6. I thought I was the only one who has seen Scream of the Butterfly....
    I find this movie strangely fascinating...


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