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September 9, 2022

A Day With Marilyn Miller, One of the Most Popular Broadway Musical Stars of the 1920s and Early ’30s

Born 1898 as Mary Ellen Reynolds in Evansville, Indiana, Marilyn Miller appeared in New York City for the Shuberts in the 1914 and 1915 editions of The Passing Show, a Broadway revue at the Winter Garden Theatre, as well as in The Show of Wonders (1916) and Fancy Free (1918). It was, however, Florenz Ziegfeld who made her a star after she performed in his Ziegfeld Follies of 1918 in Manhattan at the New Amsterdam Theatre on 42nd Street.

Miller’s movie career was short-lived and less successful than her stage career. She made only three films: adaptations of Sally (1929), Sunny (1930), and Her Majesty, Love (1931). Her last Broadway show, marking a major comeback, was the innovative 1933-1934 Irving Berlin/Moss Hart musical As Thousands Cheer, in which she appeared in the production number “Easter Parade”.

Miller was one of the most popular Broadway musical stars of the 1920s and early 1930s. She was an accomplished tap dancer, singer and actress, and the combination of these talents endeared her to audiences. On stage, she usually played rags-to-riches Cinderella characters who lived happily ever after. Her enormous popularity and famed image were in distinct contrast to her personal life, which was marred by disappointment, tragedy, frequent illness, and ultimately her sudden death due to complications of nasal surgery at age 37.

These vintage photos from The Library of Congress captured everyday moments of Marilyn Miller on a day in the mid-1920s.


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