LIMA — A magazine article from the 1920s described her as “one of the pretty blondes in the chorus” of a New York night club who, “with her wonderful smiles and magnetic personality,” was winning “a host of admirers.” In 1929, an unnamed member of that host of admirers bought Marjorie Stantley a $3,000 Packard convertible.
Another admirer was her niece, Marge Stuber, of Lima, who, in 1985, donated some of Stantley’s beaded costumes to the Allen County Historical Society.
“Her niece remembers her as a gentle and kind person whose Christmas gifts were many and expensive in the good times and small and inexpensive in the bad times, but always a gift of some kind and always remembered on birthdays and holidays,” according to document from the Allen County Historical Society about the donation.
“Of late she has been with Fred Stone and her experience of the past can be seen in the way she carries her stately form with ease and grace. We someday expect to see the name of Marjorie Stantley in electric lights on Broadway,” the magazine writer concluded.
That was Stantley’s dream when she left her home in Troy, New York, at the age of 16 bound for New York City to join the cast of the Ziegfeld Follies, a series of elaborate theatrical revue productions which ran on Broadway between 1907 and 1931 with renewals in 1934 and 1936. “She achieved part of her dream and, when times were lush, she lived luxuriously at the Ritz Carlton Hotel,” according to the historical society. “When hard times came about, she moved to a lesser motel in a much lesser neighborhood, far away from the Central Park area.”
Stantley was born in the mid-1890s, the third youngest of the seven children of German immigrants Albert and Veronica Schultze with the given name of Margaret Schultze, although she sometimes used the name Greta or Gretchen.
Stantley’s niece, Margaret “Marge,” was the daughter of her sister Clare, who was married to Edward J. Doherty. In February 1945, Marge wed Army Sgt. Robert L. Stuber, of Lima, at an Army chapel in Miami Beach, Florida. Born in Buffalo, New York, in 1918, she had been a secretary for the Army Air Forces at Curtiss-Wright Corp. in Buffalo during World War II as well as working at a law office in Miami, Florida. She died in Lima on June 4, 2003, in Lima, 14 years after the death of her husband.
According to the historical society, Stuber remembered as a child in the early 1920s “traveling by train with her mother and aunt (Stantley) on a five-day trip to Hollywood, California, object to break into the movies. Marjorie Stantley appeared in several quickie productions but, even in those days, the politics and favoritism of the movie industry led them to return to the East after 15 months in California.”
Stantley toured the country with traveling vaudeville and burlesque companies. “One notable group was that of Julian Eltinge, a female impersonator whose previous life included a wife, children and a mistress who was the lead dancer in his company. Marjorie danced in the chorus line and acted as a buffer in various skits.”
She also appeared with Fred Stone, who, according to his online biography, began his entertainment career as a multi-faceted circus performer in turn-of-the-century America. “This initial celebrity eventually led to his stellar headlining in vaudeville houses, stardom on the Broadway musical stage and character head work in films.”
Stantley “had bleached platinum hair at a time when coloring hair was thought to be somehow disreputable,” according to the historical society. “Her eyes were a deep violet and creamy skin unblemished. So, she was often employed strictly as a showgirl to appear on the stage in a state of very elaborate undress.”
In later life, she married Harold Pratt and lived with him in Brooklyn for about 15 years.
Reach Greg Hoersten at email@example.com.