Born on 12 January 1884 in Waco, Mary Louise Cecilia "Texas" Guinan played a gun-slinger and rode bareback in silent films, took New York by storm in 1906, and earned a salary of $700,000 as a speakeasy hostess. Here are highlights from a life led at full speed until 5 November 1933. Meet TEXAS GUINAN!

Tuesday, April 05, 2016

Texas Guinan: Doris Eaton

Oh those days when TEXAS GUINAN offered world-class whoopee at the El Fey Club and Club Intime.
• • Let us talk about two sisters Texas knew:  Pearl Eaton [1 August 1898 — 10 September 1958] and Doris Eaton Travis [14 March 1904  — 11 May 2010], a former Ziegfeld Follies star (and the last surviving Ziegfeld girl).
• • In the 2003 memoir by Doris Eaton Travis, "The Days We Danced: The Story of my Theatrical Family," the stage star  reminisced about her sister Pearl Eaton. "Pearl worked in several supper clubs in the 1920s. But her longest stay at any one club was with Texas Guinan at the famous El Fey Club at 107 West 45th Street, which opened in 1924. It was owned by a shady and notorious character named Larry Fay.  . . . Larry actually asked me out to dinner on one occasion, but I declined, making it clear Mama did not allow me to go out with 'older men'," wrote Doris who was 20 years old in 1924.
• • According to several sources, showbiz was rough country for the Eaton brothers and sisters, who packed plenty of alcohol and drugs along for the ride.
• • From 1916 — 1928, Pearl Eaton was on The Great White Way, performing in musicals, revues, and shows by Ziegfeld and Earl Carroll.  Doris said:  “Florenz Ziegfeld, to us and our family, was just a delightful person. My sisters, Mary and Pearl, my brother Charlie and I all worked for him, and he treated us just beautifully, almost like a father. When I went with my mother up to his office, he was always gentlemanly and kindly. He was sort of a quiet person.”
• • But Tinseltown, that rocky terrain where screen dreams rise, settle, surge, and slide, was an unsteady employer.  Pearl Eaton tip-toed through from 1929 — 1936, offered merely the shallowest breathing space inside ten films. "Klondike Annie" was the last of these.
• • But the good news is that Doris and Pearl Eaton are making their presence known at their old haunt in midtown Manhattan.
• • This weekend, the charming supper club entrepreneur, Herve Rousseau, who has owned Flute (205 West 54th Street) since 1997 — — the site of Texas Guinan's Club Abbey and Club Intime — — was being interviewed for the upcoming documentary "In the Footsteps of Texas Guinan." He shared this fascinating story with us.
• • Herve Rousseau explained that, a few years ago, he was buying new art for his club. "I must have looked at well over 10,000 prints and I selected ten pieces. I showed these to my wife, my employees, and some friends. The choice was unanimous. Everybody liked the same female portrait the best. So I bought it and we hung it up opposite the entrance. One night, one of my regular clients looked at the artwork more closely and told me the portrait was of Doris Eaton.  This was several years ago, when she was promoting her new memoir."
• • Herve Rousseau continued: "I researched her name and discovered she had been a guest at Texas Guinan's clubs and her sister Pearl Eaton had worked for Texas and Larry Fay. Now she's back here again."
• • This was a "goosebumps" moment for all the listeners. What a great story.
• • Photo: Herve Rousseau and the camera crew at Flute on 2 April 2016
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• • The legal battles fought by Mae West and Jim Timony are dramatized in the play "Courting Mae West: Sex, Censorship, and Secrets," set during the Prohibition Era. Texas Guinan is in some scenes, too.
Watch a scene on YouTube.

• • Website for all things Mae West 

• • Exciting Texas Guinan news is on the horizon. More anon.
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• • Photo: Texas Guinan
• • Herve Rousseau at 205 West 54th Street • •

Texas Guinan.

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