Eleanor Bayley: Portrait of a Kansas Chorus Girl

Eleanor Bayley (1916-76) was a decidedly minor show biz figure, but her life and career do contain points of interest.

Trained by the Moscow Brothers, who also taught Denishawn’s Ted Shawn and Ruth St. Denis, Bayley moved to Hollywood at the tail end of the Jazz Age. (Interestingly, Louise Brooks, another Denishawn dancer, also hailed from Kansas.) There she danced in the chorus lines at presentation houses like the Paramount and Grauman’s Chinese. This allowed her to move to movie chorus lines at Warner Brothers, where she is rumored to have had an affair with Busby Berkley. Movies she appeared in include Footlight Parade (1933), Dames (1934), The Gay Divorcee (1934), Gold Diggers of 1935, In Caliente (1935), Gold Diggers of 1937, Girl from Avenue A (1940), Strike Up the Band (1940), Footlight Serenade (1942), Du Barry Was a Lady (1943), I Dood It (1943), Girl Crazy (1943), Broadway Rhythm (1944), Ziegfeld Follies (1945), and The Harvey Girls (1946). In all she was in two dozen pictures over nearly a decade and a half, never once progressing beyond the chorus or bit parts.

From 1935 through 1937, Bayley was married to Eddie Foy Jr, whom she’d begun dating when she was only 17. In 1940 she married college football player Philip Duboski. For much more info, see this very thorough post on Those Obscure Objects of Desire.