Jeanne Devereaux, Prima Ballerina of Vaudeville and Broadway

“She Ran Between the Raindrops”


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About the Book

International vaudeville star and Broadway prima ballerina Jeanne Devereaux performed for millions across America and Europe from age eleven until her retirement at forty. A headliner at Radio City Music Hall, she led a large group of performers on one of the first USO Camp Shows tours to Japan. Born Jean Helman, she entered showbiz as a dancing trouper performing in palatial theaters and was one of the last vaudevillians surviving into the 2010s. In her later years living in Pasadena, California, Devereaux indulged her passion for research and writing in the Huntington Library’s Rothenberg Reading Room, losing none of her intelligence and wit despite a fading memory. Drawing on personal interviews, theatrical programs, and her diary and letters, this biography illuminates the life and career of one of vaudeville’s stars of stage, film, and television.

About the Author(s)

A former faculty member and administrator at Georgetown University, Kathleen Menzie Lesko is a research scholar at the Huntington Library in San Marino, California. She served as an administrator for the National Endowment for the Humanities and as chair of the Humanities Council of Washington, DC. She lives in Pasadena.

Bibliographic Details

Kathleen Menzie Lesko
Format: softcover (7 x 10)
Pages: 280
Bibliographic Info: 49 photos, appendices, notes, bibliography, index
Copyright Date: 2017
pISBN: 978-1-4766-6694-5
eISBN: 978-1-4766-2749-6
Imprint: McFarland

Table of Contents

Table of Contents

Acknowledgments ix
Foreword by Anthony Slide 1
A Note on the Text 4
Prologue 5
Introduction 7
1 • Family Life in St. Louis, Missouri 11
2 • The Making of a Ballerina 20
3 • New York and the Circuits 32
4 • Hollywood, a Fanchon and Marco Tour and Pasadena 45
5 • The Roxy and the Circuits 57
6 • The London Palladium 69
7 • A Royal Command Performance and a European and North African Tour 83
8 • Touring the British Provinces with George Ahoy! 93
9 • International Casino and a Royal Performance in Paris 105
10 • Radio City, Brazil and Lean Times 119
11 • Aunt Lenore’s Dream House and Performing at the St. Louis
Muny 133
12 • Touring with Earl Carroll’s Vanities 143
13 • Radio City and Clifford C. Fisher’s Folies Bergère 154
14 • Hollywood and Summer Operettas 171
15 • A USO Camp Shows Tour to Japan 180
16 • Radio City, Summer Operettas and the Milton Berle Television Show 194
17 • Final Year in New York 211
18 • Marriage and Four More Careers 222
Epilogue 243
Afterword by Jeanne Devereaux Perkins 246
Appendix One: Sample of Jeanne’s Poetry 248
Appendix Two: Jeanne’s World War II Legacy 250
Appendix Three: Jeanne’s Research on Grace Nicholson 251
Appendix Four: Sarkis Badalyan’s Commemorative Poem
Written for Jeanne’s Celebration of Life at the Huntington
Library, October 2011 254
Chapter Notes 255
Bibliography 262
Index 265