This Ziegfeld Girl was not as big of a star as Ann Pennington, but she is one of my favorites due to her beautiful and haunting photographs. Also, because she died so young at age 21.
There isn't a whole lot of information about Myrna out there. I don't even know her birth date or where she was born, although my first guess would be around Pennsylvania. Or even if Myrna Darby was her birth name.
Her father worked for a railroad company. She had an older sister named Helen, and a younger sister Donna. She also had a younger brother named Lloyd.
She was discovered by Florenz Ziegfeld while performing in Pittsburgh at age 17.
She appeared in the Ziegfeld productions of Follies of 1927, Rio Rita, No Foolin', Rosalie, and Whoopee.
Myrna shared a dressing room with fellow Ziegfeld beauties, Hazel Forbes and Catherine Moylan. Evelyn Groves, another Ziegfeld girl was a close friend of Myrna's and was at her bedside when she passed away.
I have also heard different accounts as to how she died: the flu, sunburn, exhaustion, a heart condition, heartbreak, etc.
According to a New York newspaper, Myrna was worn out from a day of swimming and was also heartbroken after her engagement to a millionaire's son was called off. Her heart had been giving her troubles for the preceding months too according to Ziegfeld. Eventually it got to the point where there wasn't much they could do to help her.
Apparently many of the rich and well to do (mostly men) who were fans of hers gave money to help get her the best medical care available. Larry Fay, a well known rum runner, shelled out quite a lot of money and even paid for her funeral. He only met Myrna once, but was so taken with her that he wanted to help anyway he could.
Almost a year after she died, her name was dragged through the mud in the divorce papers of a Miles O. Rabinowitz. She was named as one of his "companions." Other Ziegfeld girls named were: Catherine Moylan, Evelyn Groves, and Peggy Blake.
Supposedly she is buried in Woodlawn Cemetery in the Bronx, New York, but I can't confirm that at this time.
Here are some sweet things some of Myrna's friends had to say about her:
"She was one of the nicest girls who ever came in a stags door, she was. She was good to me.. She was good to everybody. She always divided up her flowers and candy. When she came back from Europe last summer, she brought every one of us a present. She minded her own business and cut no capers." ~ Harry Mitchell, stagehand at Ziegfeld theatre.
"Sure, I paid her bills. I paid them because I liked her. I only met her once. I talked to her a couple minutes in a nightclub. She looked swell that night. She was the sweetest and prettiest girl I ever met—and I’ve met plenty. I never met her again until I heard she was sick and broke." ~ Larry Fay
“She was a swell girl, and damned lucky with the men. She was the most unsophisticated girl I ever saw. And she was just as nice to the street cleaner as she was to the richest guy around the place.” ~ Hazel Forbes
This is a wonderful site! I love it! My husband and I had the good fortune to watch 'The Great Ziegfeld' 1936 with William Powell the other night. I hadn't seen it in a long time and it got me thinking about that whole era in show business so I started checking out different people from that time and landed here. A happy historical landing! I hope you keep this site going! :-)ReplyDelete
Oh thank you Nan! Being able to discuss silent film/Follies with other people who love them is so wonderful, I love everyone of you that comes and reads this. I love that movie! And William Powell is just wonderful! You should see "Ziegfeld Girl" it is a cute one with Hedy Lamarr, Lana Turner, and Judy Garland.ReplyDelete
Myrna Darby was born on April 10, 1908 in Connellsville, Pennsylvania. She died on September 26, 1929 in Manhattan, New York. She is buried at the Woodlawn Cemetery in the Bronx, New York.ReplyDelete