Doris <I>Eaton</I> Travis

Doris Eaton Travis

Norfolk, Norfolk City, Virginia, USA
Death 11 May 2010 (aged 106)
Commerce, Oakland County, Michigan, USA
Burial Rochester, Oakland County, Michigan, USA
Plot Angel of Peace, B-288 (Stone Niche)
Memorial ID 52284039 · View Source
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Dancer, Actress. A Ziegfeld Girl, she was at her death the last of a once seemingly endless line. Raised in a theatrical family as part of "The Seven Little Eatons", she first performed in public at five with a routine called "The Cupid Dance" and in 1911 was to join several of her siblings in "The Blue Bird" at the Schubert Belasco Theatre of Washington, DC, in what would mark her formal show business debut. Making her first Broadway appearance in 1917's "Mother Carey's Chickens", she was to be seen on The Great White Way numerous times over the years in such fare as "The Sap" and "Excess Baggage". In 1918 she lied about both her age and name, calling herself "Doris Levant" to join the legendary Ziegfeld Follies; at 14 she may have been the youngest-ever Ziegfeld Girl and would remain three years with the company, using her real name after turning 16. Doris made her silver screen bow with the 1921 "At the Stage Door" then moved to England for three movies including "Tell Your Children" (1922), before returning to America where she continued in silent films and on the stage. In 1929 she was the first to perform Nacio Herb Brown's "Singin' in the Rain", the song later made popular in the Gene Kelly movie of the same name; indeed, according to rumor of the time she helped write the piece, though her then-romantic partner Brown took full credit. Doris left Hollywood following 1933's "Reckless Decision", bade farewell to Broadway with the 1935 "Merrily We Roll Along", and in 1936 became a ballroom dance instructor for Arthur Murray. In 1938 she moved to Detroit where she started the first Arthur Murray Studio outside New York, eventually owning 18 franchises in Michigan while writing the "Detroit News" dance column and hosting a local television show. Retiring in the early 1970s, she and her husband Paul Travis (deceased 2000) relocated to Norman, Oklahoma, where they ran a successful horse ranch. Doris got a long-delayed high school diploma in her 70s, earned a degree from Oklahoma University with honors in 1992, and received an honorary doctorate from Michigan's Oakland University in 2007. She returned to Broadway in 1998 as part of the annual Easter Bonnet Competition, an AIDS benefit, still able to dance some of her old steps, and appeared with Jim Carey in 1999's feature film "Man on the Moon". Doris was last on stage at the Easter Bonnet Competition less than two weeks prior to her death from an aneurysm; her story was told in her 2003 memoir "The Days We Danced", and in Lauren Redniss' "Century Girl" (2006). Speaking of the Ziegfeld Follies she said simply: "It was beauty, elegance, loveliness".

Bio by: Bob Hufford

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  • Maintained by: Find a Grave
  • Originally Created by: Bob Hufford
  • Added: 11 May 2010
  • Find a Grave Memorial 52284039
  • Find a Grave, database and images ( : accessed ), memorial page for Doris Eaton Travis (14 Mar 1904–11 May 2010), Find a Grave Memorial no. 52284039, citing Guardian Angel Cemetery, Rochester, Oakland County, Michigan, USA ; Maintained by Find A Grave .