Goodbye to a pair of glorious gals

Two remarkable women died this week, and we wanted to make sure the Cladrite Clan knew of their passings and, more importantly, the amazing lives they led:

Obituary: Doris Eaton Travis, 106, was a chorus girl in the Ziegfeld Follies
By Adam Bernstein
Washington Post Staff Writer
Thursday, May 13, 2010

Doris Eaton Travis, who died May 11 at age 106, traversed one of the longest and more inspiring careers in show business. On stage since childhood, she was the youngest chorus girl ever hired in the Ziegfeld Follies, a popular theatrical spectacle of the early 20th century designed to “glorify the American girl.”

By the time of her death from an aneurysm at a hospital in Commerce, Mich., Mrs. Travis was the last surviving chorus girl from the Follies, according to Ziegfeld archivist Nils Hanson. He said Mrs. Travis’s death “marks the end of the Ziegfeld golden era of Broadway.”

An American counterpart to the Folies Bergre in Paris, the original Ziegfeld Follies ran from 1907 to 1931 and featured some of the top entertainers of the day, including W.C. Fields and Will Rogers. It introduced songs by Irving Berlin and other leading pop composers… Read more

Rosa Rio, 107; organist went from silent films to soap operas and back again
By Matt Schudel
Washington Post Staff Writer
Sunday, May 16, 2010

Rosa Rio, the last of the original silent-movie organists, gave her first professional performance in 1912, when she was 10. William Howard Taft was president.

In August, at the age of 107, she was still at the keyboard in Tampa, providing accompaniment for a screening of Buster Keaton’s silent film “One Week.” The movie was made in 1920, when Miss Rio was already a seasoned musician of 18.

Miss Rio’s 97-year career in show business came to an end May 13, when she died at her home in Sun City Center, Fla. She was less than three weeks shy of her 108th birthday. She had broken her hip in March and developed an infection and influenza, but in the past week, she was still practicing at home on her nine-foot concert grand piano.

After moving to Florida in 1993, Miss Rio provided live musical accompaniment to dozens of silent films at the historic Tampa Theatre, reprising what she had done more than 80 years earlier, when the movies were new… Read more