CORAL GABLES, FL – May 13 – It was with great sadness that Arthur Murray International learned of the passing of Doris Eaton Travis, an iconic lady of dance, in the morning of Tuesday, May 11th.
Throughout her life, Doris made a huge contribution and a lasting impression on the Arthur Murray organization. In April 2009, at age 105, she took part in the Arthur Murray International Franchisee Convention. Phil Masters, Chairman of the Board of Directors, who knew Mrs. Travis since the 1950s, described her presentation as “brilliant, witty, charming, and an inspiration.” Doris spoke about her love of dance, life, and the more than three decades that she was a highly successful part of the Arthur Murray Dance Studio system.
In 1936, when Doris’ stage and film career had slowed, she was having a difficult time finding employment. A friend was taking her son to the Arthur Murray Dance Studio for tap lessons, and mentioned that the studio’s top tap dancing instructor was leaving. Doris went into the studio to meet with Arthur Murray. She introduced herself as a member of the Eaton family, a theatrical family well-known and respected by everyone in the theater and performing arts of New York. Doris began teaching tap at the Arthur Murray Dance Studio the very next day. It was to be a collaboration that lasted for the rest of her life.
As she learned more about the studio and social dancing, Doris was invited to attend Mr. Murray’s training course for instructors. Within a year, she was asked to help one of the instructors open a branch studio in located within The Statler Hotel in Detroit. When management at the hotel changed, she was part of the early franchise system, opening Arthur Murray Dance Studios throughout Detroit and Michigan. At one point, Doris and her husband Paul, who she met while teaching, ran as many as 18 studios throughout Michigan.
Known as “The Arthur Murray Lady,” she authored a column of dance advice and commentary for the Detroit News entitled “On Your Toes” and hosted a local television program for seven years. But her influence extended far way beyond Michigan. She returned to visit with Arthur Murray family often, and was a featured guest at the international convention in 2009.
Every member of the Arthur Murray family remembers her as an inspirational woman, who believed that ballroom dance was something everyone could enjoy, at any age or stage of life.
John Kimmins, President of AMI, remembering Doris:
“She’s a legend in the dance world, and always an inspiration for the entire Arthur Murray family. We’ve been proud of her enthusiasm, spirit, and energy. At 105, she was actively involved in ballroom dancing and her passion for teaching seemed boundless.”
Claudia Marshall, owner of two Arthur Murray Studios in Dallas and International Training Director for AMI, who was a good friend and dance colleague:
“Doris constantly traveled to Cuba and South America to learn the latest Latin dances and bring them back to the Arthur Murray Studios. She was a brilliant teacher. Long before the national
Arthur Murray Dance Party produced by Arthur and Kathryn, Doris produced a local Detroit Dance Show that aired every week and was wildly popular.”
Two weeks ago, during the Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS annual Easter benefit, something she started doing in 1998, Doris told Claudia: “Best years of my life were the Arthur Murray years.”
Doris Eaton Travis will be missed..….and long remembered by all whose lives she touched.