Mary Eaton was Florenz Ziegfeld's successor to Marilyn Miller as the premier dancer in the Follies. Blonde, wholesome, and blessed with an easy, natural grace, Eaton in "Kid Boots" proved that she was a full-fledged star, an entertainer who could sing, dance, and act with magnetic power.
Born in Virginia, and trained in the Poll Stock Company in Washington, D.C., Mary and her younger sister Doris, appeared in child roles from 1912 until 1916 when she moved to New York with her mother, determined to make a theater career. She studied ballet with Ivan Terasoff, appeared briefly in a revue at the Casino Theater before the Gerry Society had her pulled from the stage for being underage. She studied singing with Albert Jeamotte, auditioned privately for George Cohan, who engaged her immediately as lead dancer in "The Royal Vagabond." The year was 1919; she was 16 years old.
Ziegfeld immediately recognized Eaton's talent and hired her as featured dancer in his Follies. During her four year stint working in Ziegfeld productions she began a film career, following in the footsteps of Doris and their younger brother, Charlie Eaton. Her star power shown in two further shows, "Lucky" and "The Five o'clock Girl," before departing for Hollywood where she starred in the Marx Brothers film, "The Cocoanuts" and Ziegfeld's sole Hollywood venture, "Glorifying the American Girl" before submitting to marital retirement. She died at age 46. David S. Shields/ALS