This is week a all about the wonderful Eddie Foy
Foy’s parents, Richard and Mary Fitzgerald, emigrated to the United States from Ireland in 1855 and lived first in New York City‘s Bowery neighborhood and then in Greenwich Village, where Eddie was born. After Richard died in an insane asylum in 1862 from syphilis-induced dementia, Mary took their four children (Eddie was second oldest) to Chicago, where at one time she reportedly tended the mentally ill widow of Abraham Lincoln.
Six-year-old Eddie began performing in the streets and local saloons to support his family. At 15 he changed his name to Foy, and with a partner began dancing in bars, traveling throughout the western United States. He worked for a time as a supernumerary in theatrical productions, sharing a stage at times with such leading men of the time as Edwin Booth and Joseph Jefferson. With another partner, Jim Thompson, Foy went west again and gained his first professional recognition in mining camps and cow towns. In one such town, Dodge City, Kansas, Foy and his partner lingered for some time and Foy became acquainted with notable citizens Wyatt Earp, Bat Masterson, and Doc Holliday. In later years, Foy told of an altercation over a girl with fellow actor Charles Chaplin (not the later film star), who was drunkenly taking pot-shots at Foy. The gunfire awakened Wyatt Earp, who disarmed the actor and sent both the players home to sleep it off. Foy is also rumored to have been in Tombstone, Arizona, in October 1881, appearing at the Birdcage Theater when the Gunfight at the O.K. Corral occurred on the 26th of that month.
In 1879, Foy married Rose Howland, one of the singing Howland Sisters, who were traveling the same circuit. Three years later, Foy and troupe relocated to Philadelphia and joined the Carncross Minstrels. That same year, however, Rose died in childbirth, as did the child she was delivering. Foy lingered with the troupe for two seasons and then returned to the road. He joined David Henderson’s troupe and traveled all around the U.S., dancing, doing comedy, and acting in farces. In San Francisco, still in 1882, he met Lola Sefton and was romantically involved with her for ten years until her death in 1894; the two never married, but had a daughter named Catherine who was raised by Foy’s sister, Mary.