Sunday, May 16, 2010

Miss Mary Eaton

Again, one sister and now the other. Mary was actually the more famous Eaton at the time. She was a darling of the stage, but sadly she let alcohol take her over and she died way too soon. If she had lived longer, she would have gone on to a wonderful career and maybe even have kept on dancing right along with her younger sister Doris.

While Doris was a tiny little thing with light brown hair, her sister Mary was tall with a dancer's figure and blonde hair. So, kinda like me and my sisters. My parents have dark hair and brown eyes and so do my older and younger sister. Then there is me...the blonde, blue eyed one. I am the Mary Eaton of my family :)

I am going to finally pay Mary a visit when I go to California this coming week. I have been to the cemetery a few times, but never had the chance to see her grave. The time has come!

Mary Eaton was born January 29, 1901 in Norfolk, Virginia.

She had the same childhood experiences as Doris with acting in various plays and eventually moving with the family to New York City so that the Eaton siblings could continue dancing and acting in productions. Mary became interested in ballet and began taking lessons.

Mary made her Broadway debut in 1917 with Adele and Fred Astaire in Over the Top. After that, she appeared in three editions of the Ziegfeld Follies. She would perform a very complicated dance number that would garner roars of applause from the audience. This same routine was repeated when she appeared in the film Glorifying the American Girl in 1929.

Like her sister, Mary did have a somewhat successful career. Her most notable films were both in 1929, including Glorifying the American Girl and Cocoanuts with The Marx Brothers.

With the 1930s, she soon found that her career was going downhill. She made her final stage appearance in 1932 and soon began to sink into alcoholism. The other Eaton siblings tried to get Mary into rehab and to help her, but it was a fruitless effort.

Mary Eaton passed away on October 10, 1948 of liver failure. She was 47 years old.

She was interred at Forest Lawn Glendale. Apparently other Eatons are buried around her, but I haven't read anything about that. I'll find out when I go visit her.

Mary was married three three alcoholics. The first was to director Millard Webb in 1929 and they stayed married until he died of an intestinal ailment in 1935. Her second marriage was to Charles Emery in 1937, but divorced in 1942. Her final marriage was to actor Eddie Laughton. Not sure when they exactly got married, but the marriage ended with Mary's death. She never had children.

Like her sister Doris, Mary also worked as an understudy for Marilyn Miller. She eventually took over Miller's role in the production of Kid Boots.


  1. A sample of some of the earliest color motion picture film you will see, featuring Mary Eaton!!

    Visit Kodak's A Thousand Words blog for a post about the video:

    "In these newly preserved tests, made in 1922 at the Paragon Studios in Fort Lee, New Jersey, actress Mae Murray appears almost translucent, her flesh a pale white that is reminiscent of perfectly sculpted marble, enhanced with touches of color to her lips, eyes, and hair. She is joined by actress Hope Hampton modeling costumes from The Light in the Dark (1922), which contained the first commercial use of Two-Color Kodachrome in a feature film. Ziegfeld Follies actress Mary Eaton and an unidentified woman and child also appear.

  2. That video was amazing! Thank you so much for sharing it. I was wondering who the one woman was, and Hope Hampton it is! And Mae Murray in was mesmerizing! I was speechless.

  3. Hello, I've been a fan of Mary Eaton ever since 1974 when I was about 13 years old and saw The Cocoanuts for the first time. During the 1990's, I still knew very little about her, except one of the first web sites I discovered (find-a-grave) made me cry. I didn't know that she was dead, much less died in 1948. That's much too soon!

    I would love to visit Mary's grave. I'm such a fan that when I was in the 7th grade, I used to walk to class while listening (in my mind, I had it memorized) to Mary Eaton sing the Monkey Doodle Doo!

  4. I love Find a Grave! It has truly been a godsend.

    I grave hunt and use it to help me find the people I am looking for. Unfortunately, I didn't print out great directions when looking for Mary's grave so I wasn't able to visit her on my last trip to California. Forest Lawn is HUGE and I am only one person. Next time though hopefully.

    I love the Eatons, such a talented and amazing family. Mary was very talented, too bad alcohol took the best out of her.


    1. Thank you again Eugene! Mary certainly was a treat, but unfortunately, I don't think her silent films are around anymore. She was only in two silents, and one was a short. There is quite a bit of info on her film "His Children's Children" but nothing about whether or not it is available, so that leads me to believe it is stowed away in archives.

  6. My grandmother was Millard Webb's sister and therefore Mary Eaton's sister in law. I have several old pictures of Mary and Millard, including their wedding picture. It is beautiful!