Today is the birthday of Margaret O’Rene “Peggy” Ryan (1924-2004). Ryan was still a toddler when she joined her parents’ vaudeville act, “The Merry Dancing Ryans”. At 13 she was spotted by movie performer George Murphy, who recruited her for a number in his musical film Top of the Town. She went on to a number of popular musical films with Donald O’Connor, Gloria Jean and others (forming a sort of loose team with O’Connor in the manner of Judy Garland and Mickey Rooney through the 1940s). She appeared in over three dozen pictures before she retired in 1953 to marry Hawaiian columnist and announcer Eddie Sherman. She was to emerge from retirement to take a small recurring role on Hawaii Five-O from 1968 through 1976. She spent her last years in Las Vegas teaching showgirls how to dance.
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.