Mary Eaton

Active - 1923 - 1942  |   Born - Jan 29, 1901 in Norfolk, VA  |   Died - Oct 10, 1948 in Hollywood, CA  |   Genres - Comedy, Musical, Children's/Family, Drama, Romance

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The star of both the 1920 and 1922 editions of the Ziegfeld Follies, blonde Mary Eaton was Florenz Ziegfeld's backup in case his biggest star, Marilyn Miller, proved too recalcitrant. Eaton later replaced Miller as Eddie Cantor's leading lady in the phenomenally successful Kid Boots (1923) and again in 1927 in Sunny. A natural for talking picture stardom, Eaton was teamed with aging Broadway juvenile Oscar Shaw in the Marx Brothers' The Cocoanuts (1929). Due to the enduring popularity of the Marxes, she remains one of the more visible of the early talkie stars. Sadly, Eaton, like old rival Marilyn Miller, failed to make much of an impact in motion pictures. Her only starring vehicle, Glorifying the American Girl (1929), about the travails of a Ziegfeld beauty, was certainly typecasting of the highest order. Although Eaton possessed a pleasing if limited soprano, the unrelentingly downbeat and morose musical proved a notorious dud. Described by a modern historian as "the Follies in purgatory," Glorifying the American Girl was the first East Coast talkie to be filmed partially outdoors and to guarantee healthy box-office returns, Paramount peppered the show with such guest stars as Eddie Cantor, Rudy Vallee, and Helen Morgan. Yet despite all this Broadway luster, the film was considered a jinx, and Mary Eaton's screen career stopped dead in its tracks. Married and divorced from screen director Millard Webb and entertainer Eddie Laughton, her death in 1948 was attributed to a heart attack.

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