Phyllis Seaton, 80, Broadway’s 1st Woman Stage Manager, Dies


Phyllis Seaton, who in her 80 years established a number of records for women, becoming the first woman stage manager on Broadway and then 45 years later being chosen the first woman mayor of Beverly Hills, has died at her home in that exclusive city.

The widow of film director and scenarist George Seaton, who later was to either discover or develop such film talents as Hedy Lamarr, Randolph Scott, Fred MacMurray, Ray Milland and Ida Lupino, began her theatrical career when she was 13.

She was a native of England who emigrated with her family at age 2 to Detroit and there became apprentice stage manager for the civic theater at the age of 13.


After graduating from the University of Michigan, Mrs. Seaton at age 21 became stage manager on Broadway for Raymond Massey’s “Hamlet.”

On the strength of her Broadway credits she came to Paramount Pictures in 1933, where she founded a talent school and formed a stock company on the studio lot, staging plays for Paramount executives.

Tested Dorothy Lamour

There she tested a Louisiana band singer named Dorothy Lamour for the lead in “The Jungle Princess,” which also was Milland’s first picture.

In 1936 she married Seaton, Academy Award-winning writer and director of “The Song of Bernadette” and “The Miracle on 34th Street.” She retired from films when she became pregnant three years later. Seaton died in 1979.

Mrs. Seaton became involved in Beverly Hills politics when her son and daughter were in school and was elected to the local school board. In 1970 she was the first woman elected to the Beverly Hills City Council and became mayor in 1973, retiring the following year.

Other survivors include three grandchildren.