A Pretty Ziegfeld Girl IS A Melody
By ~ Absolutely*Kate
Chorus girls, chorus girls, chorus girls. There were thousands, no ~ make that hundreds of thousands at all the auditions. Office floozies and drug store dames countering fame. The top types that came from the steno pool and those down on the farm fielding dreams. "Glorifying the American Girl" was the dream theme for his showmanship scheme. Florenz ~ "What kind of a mother names her son 'Flo'?", I remember hearing Fanny Brice's mother wisecrack to mine down at the 5 & Dime ... Florenz Ziegfeld saw them all, judged them all, delightedly, discernibly plucked out a precise 3,000 of us all for fame and feathers, for long creamy poils and for the way chiffon feels all a'swishhhhin' against your lotioned up nothing else. Yes Sir! We were those Broadway babies! We were the goils, the goils who wore poils, the fluff that dreams are made of. We were the Ziegfeld Girls, the fine feathered fillies of Florenz' Follies.
You were there, weren't you? The night little lanky Doris Eaton joined her sisters on the Ziegfeld Stage, lying like a brazen bandit about her not-shy 14 age. There's no end to what some goils will do to steal the spotlight. Ask Ginny, ask Sue. They unlucked out when Doris joined the chorus.
F. Scott was there washing it up with bathtub gin and Irving Berlin ~ remember him? It was always a packed crowd edging the edge of their seats when the Ziegfeld Follies centerstaged even the Jazz Age. Remember? Babe Ruth felt homered and Chaz Lindbergh's spirits flew high (even outside of St Louis, Louie). Woodrow in the front row ~ yeah, the Prez ~ he had a prize seat, and the band played on. Will Rogers met many men (and women) he really did like, W.C. poked fun and the laughter poured like prohibition 'tea' (hee hee). Fanny Brice always played nice and that Billie Burke was someone special alright, she was. She glimmered, she sparkled, she reminded you to believe in believers and no place like home. But that's another story to Glinda before Mr Z became the wizard of her "Ahhhhs". We'll follow the Follies down that yellow brick road when we come to it. The glory of this story is about Doris, Doris Eaton, ya know. She's the last Ziegfeld Girl of how the show went on . . . from 1907 to 1931, when America was never the same again.
We did the Charleston and the Fox Trot and the Lindy too, but no one danced out of the chorus of course like Doris Eaton did. Mr Z never got into a rage about the stage age fib, so the way it turns out, Doris went from chewin' her Juicy Fruit one day to being the youngest Ziegfeld Girl to strut her stuff the next. Don't get me wrong though, she still stuck to her Juicy Fruit, some habits never let you down, by gum and by golly. Least not, not ever in the Ziegfeld Follies. This is show biz, ya know?
Oh it was *magic*! Oh it was glam and grace, luscious as lace all over the place. Divine ~ to dance and dine and rehearse and rehearse and rehearse and rehearse until we knew it cold, we gave it hot and we sang it sugar sweet and finessed the Follies fine. Those were the days. That was my time ~
Me? I'm Mabel Jean Krenicky, though as Mama predicted I would, I took a stage name as soon as I could. See? That's me up there from tryouts to bright lights. I'll tell you about those days another time too. This tale's about Doris, Doris Eaton who had 'em eatin' out of the fresh flair of her open palms and lingering fingertips. Man oh man, was she a charmer. Before Gene Kelly ever opened an umbrella, she was the one the lyricist fella first let sing "Singin' In The Rain". Did'ya know that? Not many do. But now I told you. So's ya know it's true. They had a fling of a thing too, but that's show biz. You know how that goes ~
Day in and nights out ~ Dancing with the sparks, waltzing in the wonder of our minds we all measured up mighty fine to the high falutin' caliber of facing the music together, and we measured up swell I tell'ya. We measured up 36-28-38 or fancy suit Mr Z booted our butts ~ well not really, but we had to stay in shape and style and never ever let loose any of our femine wile.
Auditions, angst ... costumes of vivid visions ... crowded giggling flaunting dressing rooms ... Stage Door Johnnies who only had eyes for us (sigh) ... splendiferous spectaculars ... pageantry without pomp but piled plenty with pizazz to please the paying Palookas. We balanced not enough hours in the day like we balanced our towering headresses ... always with class, always with distinction. Curtain calls and Opening Night reviews in the Times. Oh! Those were the times. Oh! We were the dames. We were open-eyed and kickin' high. Doris always was. Doris Eaton I mean.
She died Tuesday. Danced her way to 106 and never lied about that age. She was stage struck and a silent film star ~ I think she even played AT THE BIJOU. (How could it be otherwise? That's where all the best talent headlines.) Had herself a string of the first Artie Murray dance halls and kept folks hoofin' and struttin' their stuff knowin' their left from their right and not tanglin' their tangos. Hank Ford and the husband she hankered for were dancin' partners through her star spangled time. Why, her Mr Travis was so OK in Doris' book, or should I say dance card, that she Okie-Dokey'd that Okie at the altar, and thoroughbred that she was, raised horses and happy OOOOOklahoma endings with her man. Oh she loved him so, and living and learning too. A bunch of us got cards at Christmas, learned she went back to spiff up her schooling, studied up and got her high school diploma and then a college degree through courses here and there. Well imagine that. Doris made history to a certain degree and degreed in it too!
THE YOUNGEST ZIEGFELD GIRL.
THE very LAST ZIEGFELD GIRL.
THE YOUNGEST ZIEGFELD GIRL.
THE very LAST ZIEGFELD GIRL.
Dears, that's how I wrote it up in my diary tonight. Had me a little Italian hootch that I hitched to Salut her star too. How could it be otherwise? Old habits are soft comforts. Old habits slide down easy.
There are glissandos of melody bits and peaces slidin', ridin', glidin' crazy-easy through me right now ... from shows and tunes we knew and -- oh, Oh! I just adore a Gershwin tune, don't you? They were there too. George and Ira. Boy oh boy I liked those boys, but that's another story, another time. For now ~
"Come along and listen to the lullaby of Broadway ... when the Broadway Baby says 'goodnight'. Gooood~night~Doris. You done us proud. Sleep tight Baby. Sleep tight ~ Let's call it a day. Hip Hurray and Bally hoo. LISTEN TO THE LULLABY OF ~ OLD BROADWAY!"
I was 'membering about that time ~ 'Member what that critic had to say when we were Chicago's razzamatazz? ~ “Mine eyes are yet dim with the luminous beauty of a girl named Doris.”
NEW YORK (Reuters) - New York's Broadway will dim its lights on Wednesday to mark the death of the last of the famed Ziegfeld showgirls, performers renowned for their lavish costumes and elaborate stage routines. Doris Eaton Travis died at age 106 on Tuesday . . . just two weeks after she last appeared on stage in New York, according to a statement on the website of Broadway public relations firm Boneau/Bryan-Brown.
It was in Wednesday's news. I saw it same time the light changed, when my friend Sugar Mae Shwend from the West Side propped the clipping up next to my cream swirled cup o'Joe at the Chock Full of Nuts where we still go -- the one at the corner of Joy and Jive. We go there to dish our dreams. What's that? We're still around? That's another story for another time. One with an elixir that defies time and sips pensive watching how the world spins 'round and 'round. Why, just the other day our pal Satchmo said to our selves,"It's a ~ wonderful world."
I tell ya ~ when you got moxie and you see stars and you believe in believers . . . well, you just know it IS. A wonderful world. And a pretty Ziegfeld Girl? Like Doris Eaton, like Billie Burke, like Fannie and me, Mabel Jean Krenicky . . . we're an everlovin' melody, in your mind, aren't we?
Hum us well, will ya?
God bless'ya Doris Eaton.
God bless'ya Florenz Ziegfeld.
Dance through the time heavens are made of.
Open the curtain and bring down the house!
"Heaven ~ They're in Heaven
And they seem to find
the Happiness they seek ~
the Happiness they seek ~
When they're out together
Dancing cheek to cheek"
(C) 2010 ~ Author Absolutely*Kate
Fiction premiere AT THE BIJOU
though Tribute to Doris Eaton and Ziegfeld Girls everywhere
is melody of reality ~ timelessly genuine