Perpetually cast in the lightweight musicals of the late 1930s and early 1940s, Eleanor Bayley was the eternal dancer, always seen in the background and never truly noticed by the viewer. After a steady although unspectacular career, she retired to raise a family.
Eleanor Bayley was born on January 4, 1916, in Atchison, Kansas, to Hammond Bayley and Grace R. Bayley. Her sister was Gwendolyn Bayley, and her younger brother Hale was born in 1924. Her family was a staple of the city, being there for many generations.
Growing up and attending high school in Atchison, she dreamed of becoming a dancer and actress. She even made a notebook detailing those dreams for an English project. Sadly, her father died on July 1, 1927, when she was just 11 years old. The family moved to the West coast afterwards.
Eleanor finished her high school days in Hollywood, danced in all the schools’ production and took dancing classes from Moscow brothers, who were also dance teachers to Ted Shaw and Ruth St. Denis. She got her first taste of the real dancers life when she got a job as a member of a dancing troupe that gave 5 shows a day at the Paramount theater (between movies). Soon she moved to Grauman’s Chinese theater, and became a part of a vaudeville troupe (Gold Diggers) that traveled all around the US and Canada. She returned to Hollywood full time in 1933, and got a contract with Warner Bros, becoming one of the Busby Berkeley girls.
Eleanor made several very good movies at the very start of her career. The golden string started with Footlight Parade, a snappy, sharp musical with James Cagney, Joan Blondell, Ruby Keeler and Dick Powell. Fashions of 1934 is one of those sophisticated comedies they don’t make anymore today. A special plus is seeing Bette Davis in posh frocks with long blonde hair (have to see it to believe it!). Dames gives us the best of Warner Bros 1930s musicals – plenty of witty comedy, great ensemble cast and f course, lavish dancing numbers choreographed by Busby Berkeley. It rarely gets better than this as far as the genre goes. And then, in her next movie, it did get better – Gold Diggers of 1935 are, as one reviewer summed it nicely, Good music, lots of beautiful girls and an inane plot, humorously acted out by a talented cast.
Sadly, the golden string was finished here, and some mediocre movies followed. Shipmates Forever is a Navy musical, a special sub genre of its own, but it’s not a typical example of the genre, giving us a more nuances, realistic portrayal of military life, but herein lies it’s problem – is it a carefree musical of a serious study about Navy men? The movie tries both and it fails. While not a complete waste, it’s below the usual Powell-Keeler musical of the time.
Both Colleen and Gold Diggers of 1937 show us just how the golden years of Warner Bros musicals was waning. Again, while not complete wastes of time, it’s a movie you see once and forget after two days. Over the Wall is a pretty weird musical – a man lands into jail, lives his days full of rage and anger, only to discover he has a fine singing voice and becomes a singer. Yeah folks, they made a movie out of this silly story. Dick Foran, the singing cowboy, plays the bitter, twister fellow with a voice of an angel. Ha ha!
Girl from Avenue A is a forgotten Jane Withers movie. Joan of Ozark is an idiotic romp where Judy Canova playing her usual character, works as an anti Nazi agent. When she did it all, including hunting down Nazi criminals. What to say? if you like Bob Burns/Judy Canova comedies, maybe worth a look, otherwise avoid.
Footlight Serenade was a better movie, one of the first breakthrough roles for Betty Grable. It’s a nice piece of lightweight entertainment, with an interesting cast – the vivacious Betty, sharp Jane Wyman, charming, handsome John Payne and gruff, crass Victor Mature (who always played the same character over and over again – but at least he knew he was a limited talent and never denied this). Springtime in the Rockies is one of those movies that has neither the script nor the top direction, but the music and the actors make it an enchanting experience.
Du Barry Was a Lady, while not a master piece by along shot, is one of the most lush, beautiful looking musicals ever made. The gentle pastel colors create such a dreamlike, blurry feeling so the viewer is transported into a heavenly place while watching it. I Dood It is a simple, pleasing Red Skelton/Eleanor Powell movie with some great supporting cast (Gloria DeHaven, Lena Horne!!). Broadway Rhythm, on the other hand, is a below average musical. The reasons are plentiful: average music and leads with zero chemistry and charm. George Murphy was a great second banana, but never good enough for a leading man – the same goes for Ginny Simms.
Eleanor gave up movies afterwards to raise a family.
Eleanor’s favorite actor was James Cagney, she considered Judy Garland a great person and highly strung, said that Marjorie Main was a germ fanatic, and noted many years later that she enjoyed jitterbugging with George Murphy. Among her most treasured memories from Tinsel town was the time she was invited to San Simenon, Heart’s huge castle above Los Angeles. Eleanor was appearing in a movie Heart was producing for his mistress, Marion Davies. Eleanor noted how Hearst spared no expenses when Marion was concerned, building lavish sets and buying whole department stores for her dressing room. Marion herself was extremely generous, giving the girls who visited her dressing room anything they liked from the racks.
A beautiful blonde with porcelain skin, Eleanor was a popular girl in Hollywood. She started dating Eddie Foy Jr. in 1933, when she was barely 17 years old. The two wed in April 1935. Eddie Foy, born on February 4, 1905 in New Rochelle, New York, was the son of Eddie Foy Sr. and one of the “Seven Little Foys”. Throughout the 1930s and ’40s he appeared in dozens of B movies. He closely resembled his father, and portrayed him in four feature films.
The marriage did not last and couple divorced in October 1937. Eleanor continued to date, hoping to find the special man who would become her husband number two.
She married Philip Duboski, then a professional football player, on January 1940 in Yuma, Arizona. Their romance started when he was playing guard and halfback at the USC football team. Duboski went on to serve in the US Air Force during WW2.
Duboski was born on November 19, 1916, in Beloit, Wisconsin, to Mr. and Mrs. John Dubosky. Highly athletic, he played both football and basketball before graduating from high school in California and enrolling into USC. He planned to go into the oil industry after the war, but fate had other plans in store for him.
Eleanor’s second marriage proved to be a happy one. The couple had four children. Dolynn Duboski was born on July 22, 1946 in Los Angeles County, Phyllis Anastasia Duboski was born on March 8, 1948, John Bayley Duboski (their only son), was born on May 17, 1949 in Los Angeles County, and Deborah C. Duboski was born on October 10, 1957 in Los Angeles County.
Her husband worked in the Los Angeles Police Department for a few years, and in 1963 he moved his family to Strathmore, where he had bough some land in 1957. Phillip became a full time farmer, in addition to going back to school and getting his teaching credentials – he ended up teaching in the Porterville Citrus High School.
Eleanor was active in the civic community, serving on boards of several schools and teaching children how to dance. She also kept in touch with other Busby Berkeley girls, and they often had meetings in California to reminiscence about the old days. The Duboskis moved to Porterville in 1974.
Eleanor Dubovski died on June 29, 1976. Her former husband, Eddie Foy Jr. died on July 15, 1983.
Her widower Phil Duboski remarried to Patsy Lou Gill in 1980. He died on April 16, 2003, in Tulare, California.