Ziegfeld star Vera Maxwell (1892-1950) has unfortunately been eclipsed in the public’s mind by another dancer by the same name who came slightly later and lived much longer (1901-1995) and gained her greatest fame as a fashion designer.
Born and raised in New York, this Vera Maxwell ran away from home at 14 to dance with a traveling show against the wishes of her parents. She eventually caught the eye of Ned Wayburn, who hired her for the chorus of the show Mr. Hamlet of Broadway (1908-1909). Then Ziegfeld put her in the traveling edition of the Follies of 1909, and then the Follies of 1911 and 1912, where she was one of the stars. Ziegfeld dubbed her “the Blonde Venus”, years before Marlene Dietrich came along.
In 1913 she formed a ballroom dance team with Wallace McCutcheon (not the silent film director); the pair danced in vaudeville and in private exhibitions and they collaborated on the choreography on the short-lived Broadway show The Dancing Duchess. Maxwell was then cast in the shows The Century Girl (1916-1917), Dance and Grow Thin (1917), and Miss 1917 (1917-1918).
Then she appears to have returned to ballroom dance exhibitions with McCutcheon for a number of years and to have opened a bunch of night clubs and cafes. She retired from performing in 1928. She never married. Vera Maxwell died of throat cancer in 1950.
Trav – longtime fan of your work – just wanted to say thanks for doing it! Glad to help a little on Patreon if it means more from you – another book in the works, I hope?
Thanks so much! Wonderful to hear! You’ve made my day!