Theatre critic John Lahr recalls his mother, showgirl Mildred Lahr, in "My Mother the Ziegfeld Girl," published in the May 13 issue of The New Yorker magazine.
The memoir forms a companion piece to Notes on a Cowardly Lion, Lahr's acclaimed biography of his father, comedian Bert Lahr, who played the Cowardly Lion in the film The Wizard of Oz and starred in Broadway musicals.
In the New Yorker article, Lahr writes about his how his mother grew up in an emotionally neglectful household, and learned to rely on her looks to win approval. She made her N.Y. stage debut as the prize in a beauty contest, and went on to appear in the choruses of several Broadway revues, including George White's Scandals of 1931, where she met Lahr and married him soon after.
"She loved Satchmo and Ella Fitzgerald, especially when they sang Cole Porter," Lahr writes. "Mom and Dad had lived ion the same floor of the Waldorf Towers as Porter in 1940, when they were first married and Dad was starring with Ethel Merman in Porter's DuBarry Was a Lady."
The article is accompanied by a fetching photo of his mother in her prime, beaming in a bathing suit on the running board of an old car. The story goes on to chronicle the often stormy but genuinely affectionate relationship between the comic and the showgirl, delving into his mother's infidelities and expanding further on his father's poignant insecurities, as chronicled in the earlier book.