Back in the 1960s my grandmother told me that her brother’s wife, Stella, had been on Broadway. Not only that, but that she also knew Jeanette MacDonald and Sydney Greenstreet. I thought that grandma was confused or just plain wrong. Many years later when I entered Stella into my genealogy program, I entered a note that she was MAY have been on Broadway. Last year I found a website called Internet Broadway Database. I put in Stella’s name and was very surprised to find her listed in 2 Broadway shows. Then when I clicked on the name of one of the shows, I found out that both Jeanette MacDonald and Sydney Greenstreet were both in the cast. It turns out that my grandmother’s story was correct. Stella wasn’t the lead in the show. At best she was the third lead but she did really appear on Broadway.
Many months later I decided to do more research on Stella. I looked her up on the Fulton History website. I was really surprised to find many references to her. As it turns out, she was in a travelling show before the Broadway shows and she was referenced in many various newspapers around New York State. The show would appear in Oswego, NY one day, Fulton, NY the next day and then do two shows in Utica the next day. It must have been a gruelling schedule.
Also on Fulton History I found 4 notices of the marriage of Stella and Frank (grandma’s brother). They were married in New York City but the best marriage notice was in the Elmira Telegram. Frank was originally from Hornell, NY and the Elmira newspaper gave him the hometown treatment.
Sometimes old family stories do turn out to be true. More often they turn out to be partially correct. Over time some names get mixed up or locations confused. The only way to tell if your family’s stories are correct is to do a search of the facts.