Sunday night on Who Do You Think You Are? Katey Sagal wanted to find out about her mother’s early career. Her mother was born Sara Zwilling but used the stage name of Sara Macon. The program mentioned that Sara had been on radio as a teenager and also that she joined USO shows during World War II. On the Fulton History newspaper website I found this long article on Sara getting a big break on Broadway. Internet Broadway Database says that the show that she was performing in closed three days after this article ran in the newspaper. Also, this was the only show she was in on Broadway. I would imagine that Sara joined the USO show tours soon after this show closed.
LONG ISLAND DAILY PRESS
Saturday, Jan. 1, 1944
Understudy, 17, Makes Good
Broadway’s happiest understudy is Sara Macon, 17-year-old actress just out of Southern Seminary, Virginia, who saved “What’s Up”, the Mark Warnow musical at the National Theatre, three times in one week. If the cast jointly acted as Santa Claus and feted her during the Christmas holidays it was because they appreciated the service she had rendered the show.
Nobody, as a matter of fact, paid much attention to Sara Macon till a week or so ago. It’s her first Broadway show and her entire part consisted of a few lines. but from the wings every performance the young actress avidly followed the movement of all the principals she was understudying and there were seven of them.Gradually she learned every lyric, every bar of music, every dance step and even every line inflection so she’d be letter perfect if suddenly she were called upon to fill in.
Frankly, Sara never expected to go on. The cast is full of youngsters no older than she is. But a cold kept Mary Roche in bed and the unabashed girl, with the poise of a veteran, stepped into the spotlight and sang every one of the Roche songs with verve. No sooner had Miss Roche returned when Marjorie Beecher, ballerina, reported ill. Again tiara filled the breach, and for a few nights she pirouetted across the footlights with magic lightness of foot. Retained even was the moment of gay satire with Rodney McLennan in the dance interlude of “You Wash and I’ll Dry.”
Pat Marshall, comedienne, meanwhile, was fighting the grippe herself and kept going long enough to see Miss Beecher back in her role. The stage manager called Sara Macon on the telephone. “Be prepared to go on for Pat Marshall,” he ordered. And Sara did.
It was that night that Jimmy Savo and Johnny Morgan talked in high praise of the little girl who had suddenly become the focus of all attention.
“We ought to do something about her.” said Savo.
I was thinking of the same thing,” agreed Morgan. “Just thanking her for giving a good account of herself isn’t enough. How about a party?”
“Sure,: came from Savo, “a party—a Christmas party. We’ll be Santa Claus.”
The idea leaped from dressing room to dressing room. They’ll all be Kris Kringle and Sara Macon would be Cinderella. And she was for one night.
As for Miss Macon, she’s back on duty again as understudy watching the principals from the wings just as if nothing had happened.
“I didn’t dream it this way,” is all she would say. “But it was the happiest Christmas I ever had.”