Obituaries : Mary Foy; One of Last 3 in Zany Family

Times Staff Writer

Mary Foy, one of the three remaining “Seven Little Foys” of vaudeville fame, the zany family mob whose frenetic routines made them a national favorite for 20 years, has died at the UCLA Medical Center, it was reported Wednesday.

She was the widow of film actor Lyle Latell and died Sunday. Her niece, Madeline Foy O’Donnell, said she had never fully recovered from surgery last June.

“She didn’t like to tell her age, but she was in her early 80s,” her sister, also named Madeline Foy O’Donnell, said. When she married Latell in 1947, Mary Foy was reported as the youngest of the Foy children but her sister said Wednesday that she actually ranked in the middle of her six siblings.


With Mary Foy’s death, the older Madeline and her brother Irving, who is retired and lives in Albuquerque, are the only children left of the famous seven which originally also included Bryan, Charley, Richard and Eddie Jr.

Eddie Foy Sr., whose real name was Edwin Fitzgerald, was a popular comedian and song and dance man in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. He married a ballerina, Madelinda Morando, and they had five boys and two girls.

In 1910 Foy Sr. created “Eddie and the Seven Little Foys,” with songs, dances and organized chaos. It quickly became one of the hottest acts in show business.

Mary and the other children toured with the family through the 1920s. But after Eddie Jr. went on Broadway as a single act in 1929 (he remained a headliner through the 1960s and died in 1983), the brothers and sisters began gradually to disperse and seek other careers.

The story of the family’s vaudeville act was retold in the 1955 film “The Seven Little Foys,” starring Bob Hope and Milly Vitale, with James Cagney as producer-dancer-composer George M. Cohan. Eddie Foy Jr. served as technical adviser on the picture.

During the 1940s and ‘50s, Mary helped her brother, Charley, run the “Charley Foy Supper Club” in Sherman Oaks where such then aspiring comics as Jackie Gleason, Dan Rowan, Dick Martin and Phil Silvers appeared.

Another brother, Bryan, also carved out an individual career in show business and became a composer (“Mr. Gallager and Mr. Shean”) and a writer for comic Buster Keaton.

Eddie Jr. was seen in several films, including “Yankee Doodle Dandy” in 1942 in which he portrayed his father.

Richard ran a theater chain business with his father in Dallas before his death in 1947; Charley died in 1984.

In addition to her sister, brother and niece Madeline, Mary Foy is survived by six other nieces and nephews, and seven grandnieces and grandnephews.

Services are scheduled at 3 p.m. Saturday at St. Cyril’s Catholic Church in Encino, with burial Tuesday at the family plot in New Rochelle, N.Y.