Layton will visit her old haunt (though not the roof) one more time on Oct. 27 to celebrate the 100th anniversary of the New Amsterdam Theatre, the former home of the famous Ziegfeld Follies and now the Broadway base of Disney Theatricals. Joining her for the 4-6 PM event will be fellow Ziegfeld Girls Barbara Hunter (98 years old) and Doris Eaton (99 years old), as well as the juvenile star of the 1921 Follies, Charles Eaton (a spruce 92 years old).
The New Amsterdam actually opened on Oct. 26, back in 1903. In its early years, when it was widely regarded as the most splendid theatre in New York City, its proscenium framed the talents of Fanny Brice, Will Rogers, W.C. Fields, Fred Astaire, Jack Benny, Bob Hope and others. Charles Eaton performed with two of these stars: Brice and Fields. The two played the royal parents of Eaton in a skit called “Birthday of the Dauphin.” Charles was 10 years old at the time.
Charles and Doris were two of the then famous Eaton siblings—five in number and all stage performers. (The others were Mary, Pearl and Joseph.) Doris began performing at age four. She was 14 when she joined the Follies of 1918; she appeared in the next two Follies as well. For the past six years, she has returned to the New Amsterdam stage for the annual Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS benefits.
Sister Mary performed in the Follies of 1921 and 1922. Pearl did not grace any Ziegfeld production, but did appear in the 1925 edition of the rival Earl Carroll's Vanities.
All five Eatons were born in Norfolk, VA, except Charles, who was born in Washington, DC. Charles and Doris live together in Norman, OK, on an 880 acre ranch. The New Amsterdam is currently playing host to The Lion King, its 164th production, and only its second since the theatre was restored and reopened by Disney in 1997 after 60 years without a legitimate entertainment.