After a head start performing in her native San Francisco, Ethel Levey (b. this day in 1880) came to New York in 1897, singing and dancing at Koster and Bial’s (where she was held over for 20 weeks) and toured with vaudeville companies managed by Weber & Fields and Hyde & Behman. In 1899 she met and married George M. Cohan. The timing was fortuitous; he opened his first full-length show the following year. She was to star in most of his productions through 1906, when the pair broke up. She continued to perform in vaudeville, with sporadic returns to Broadway though the 1940s.This rather talented woman (remember how she played 20 weeks at Koster & Bial’s?) was treated rather ignominiously not only by Cohan (who dumped her when he became famous) but by history. You will find no reference to her whatever, for example, in Yankee Doodle Dandy. In retrospect, she might have fared better on her own! She passed away in 1955.
To find out more about the history of vaudeville, consult No Applause, Just Throw Money: The Book That Made Vaudeville Famous, available at Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and wherever nutty books are sold.