Thursday, May 13, 2010

The Last Ziegfeld Follies Girl Is Gone

Doris Eaton Travis died Tuesday at age 106. She continued to work long after her Follies days ended, with annual appearances on Broadway and for the reopening of the New Amsterdam Theatre, where she danced about 80 years earlier. "I was the only one who could still dance," she said then.

Even after more than 90 years as a hoofer, dancing still came easy to Travis, whose extravagant Ziegfeld Follies show enchanted Broadway from 1907 into the 1930s.

The Ziegfeld Follies had become an entertainment staple. Juicing up the show were beautiful female dancers who performed elaborate chorus numbers. Travis became the youngest Ziegfeld Follies Girl when she was hired at age 14. She turned to silent movies with "At the Stage Door" and "The Broadway Peacock" in 1920.

She applied for a job as a tap dance instructor at the Arthur Murray Dance Studios in New York. She got the job and branched into social dance. She eventually opened a Murray franchise in Michigan and began a second career. One of the first people she contacted was Paul H. Travis. He died in 2000, a few days before his 100th birthday.

The executive director of Broadway Cares, Tom Viola, said, "When the stage lights hit Doris," he said, "she was instantly and forever young." He said Broadway, which planned to dim its lights Wednesday night in her honor, would "miss her forever." She enrolled at Oklahoma University and earned a bachelor's degree in history at age 88. --(AP News)


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