This week marked the birthday of Mary Eaton, Doris’ older sister (by 3 years).
Mary made her Broadway debut at the age of 15 – in a specialty ballet number – at the Casino Theatre (photo below), located on the SE corner of 39th and Broadway from 1882 until 1930 – at which time and many theatres below 41st St. were demolished for typical garment district buildings. Her first show was produced by the Shubert Brother’s, who hadn’t yet built their first theatre (the Lyric). The music for “Follow Me” was written by Sigmund Romberg – his 14th Broadway show in 3 years (he began his Broadway show at the age of 27.)
Mary appeared in the Ziegfeld Follies of 1920 (with Fanny Brice, Eddie Cantor, her sister Doris, W. C. Fields – whose birthday is also this week – and a cast of 41 – with a set by Joseph Urban), the Follies of 1921 (in which she appeared with her brother Charles and with Mary, Brice, Fields but not Cantor – and a cast which swelled to 61. Joseph Urban again did the sets.), the Follies of 1922 (in which she appeared with sister Pearl, Will Rogers but not Brice or Fields – and a cast with the astounding size of 114. Urban did the sets again), and the Summer Follies of 1923 (when Ziegfeld revived the 1922 Follies and ran it throughout the summer of 1923). Mary would do 5 more Broadway shows until she was 27 years old – when she started making Silent Films, including Cocoanuts in 1929. Mary was 3 years younger than Pearl. Charles was the youngest, being born 9 years after Mary. Mary brought Charles into a Broadway show when he was 8 years old. All 3 siblings turned to alcohol when the depression ruined their respective film careers. Doris and Charles took on new careers co-operating an Arthur Murray dance studio in Detroit. Charles was #2 in the family with longevity – he lived to the age of 94. Mary died in L.A. at the age of 46 due to liver failure. Pearl never became one of Ziegfeld’s principal dancers but he made her co-choreographer. When she went to Hollywood at the age of 31, she continued as dance director for RKO until her career disappeared, along with those of her siblings, by the mid-30’s. At the age of 60, Pearl was murdered in her Manhattan Beach home but the crime was never solved.