Friday, September 21, 2007

Eddie Foy, Sr. (born Edwin Fitzgerald Foy March 9, 1856, in Greenwich Village, New York City; died February 16, 1928,Kansas City, Missouri), was an actor, comedian, dancer and vaudevillian.

Eddie Foy Biography
When his Irish immigrant father died in 1862, six-year-old Foy began performing in local saloons first in New York and later in Chicago to support his family. He gained his first professional recognition in the mining camps and cow towns of the West, beginning around 1878. Some sources have him marrying Rose Howland or Holland in 1879 possibly producing two children, but their divorce, or her death, or the fate of any children has not been traced.
During this travelling period he apparently became friendly with Doc Holliday in Dodge City, and remembered Doc trying in 1879 to get him to join the "Royal Gorge War", a railroad right-of-way dispute. One tale has him in Dodge in an altercation over a girl with fellow actor Charles Chapin, who was drunkenly taking pot-shots at Foy. The gunfire awakened Wyatt Earp, who disarmed the actor and sent both the players home to sleep it off. Foy is also reported to have been in Tombstone, Arizona in October 1881 appearing at the local theatre when the Gunfight at the OK Corral occurred on the 26th of that month. In 1886 he married Lola Selfton, who died ten years later without issue.

Early Years
He returned to Chicago in 1888 as the star comedian in variety shows and revues. He played the variety circuits for years in a series of song and dance acts, eventually rising to musical comedy stardom in such Broadway hits as The Strollers (1901), and Mr. Bluebeard (1903). Foy specialized in eccentric routines and costumes, often appearing in drag to hilarious effect. His upper lip extended well below his teeth, giving him an unusual V-shaped grin, and making him look like he had no upper teeth. As a result he spoke with a slurred lisp that audiences adored.
In 1896, Foy married his third wife, Madeline Morando. She gave him eleven children, of whom seven survived. These were: Bryan (1896-1977) who became a producer at Warner Bros; Charley (1898-1984), an actor; Mary (1901-1987); Madeline (1903-1988), an actress; Eddie Jr. (1905-1983) who carved out a successful career as an actor and entertainer on stage and screen, including The Pajama Game, and Bells Are Ringing; Richard (1905-1947) and Irving (1908-2003), a writer. Eddie Jr.'s son, Eddie III, was a casting director with Columbia Pictures for over 40 years.
Between 1901 and 1912 Foy Sr. played the leading comic roles in a series of musical comedies in New York City and on tour including The Strollers (1901), The Wild Rose (1902), Mr. Bluebeard (1903), Piff! Paff! Pouf! (1904), The Earl and the Girl (1905), The Orchid (1907), Mr Hamlet of Broadway (1908/9), Up and Down Broadway (1910), and Over the River (1912). It was while on tour with Mr. Bluebeard that he became a hero of Chicago's infamous Iroquois Theater Fire, December 30, 1903. A malfunctioning spotlight set fire to the scenery backstage, and Foy stayed onstage until the last minute, trying to keep the audience from panicking. Unfortunately the theatre's safety features were woefully inadequate, the theatre personnel untrained, and some of the exits had been locked from the outside; at least 600 people perished.