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Allyn King is one person that shares something in common with me — an eating disorder. Not to draw attention to it but I find I can relate on some level to her struggle. Learning about her life will probably make me a bit emotional, but I'm excited to commemorate her in a way that not many have.
Allyn was born in North Carolina to Dr. Allyn (Allen) King and Phoebe King in February of 1899. They lived in Winston-Salem briefly and, once her father had obtained his degree, moved back to Louisiana, his native state.
In 1909, Allyn's father was shot by a young boy named Leroy Oliver. The Adams County News reported the incident by saying: 'Dr. Allen S. King, one of the most prominent physicians in this part of the state, and commander of the Berwick division of the Louisiana Naval brigade, was shot and killed in his office by Leroy Oliver, a sixteen-year-old boy, who sought to avenge an alleged blight cast upon his sister's life." The article also stated that he was shot twice and once Leroy had shot him, Leroy walked himself straight to the court house, in which he surrendered to doing so.
In 1914, she was working in vaudeville as a comedic and vocal talent. Allyn would tell her original stories and sing her own songs. In an advertisement for the Majestic Theater, Allyn was credited as an 'Artistic Vocalist."She apparently 'won all her favor with a repertoire of songs, sung in pleasing style.'
The reason that Allyn was ever in the Ziegfeld Follies was thanks to Eddie Wittstein, who was a performer. When he encountered her, she was being tutored in dancing and music and appeared at many church social events. She was working in New Haven, Connecticut in a cabaret. She would give her mother an annual sum of $25,000 to put aside for if she ever decided to stop working in theater. Allyn debuted in the Follies in 1915, where she appeared in the Ziegfeld Midnight Frolic. However, a lot of articles also state that she was discovered by Gene Buck, whichever is true is sure to get credit.
In 1917, Allyn established the "Ziegfeld Follies" Knitting Circle. She enlisted women to knit hose, sweaters & garments of sorts for friends who were 'helping Uncle Sam' in France. They gathered every Monday at the New National Theater. Helen Barnes was the chief knitter, Dorothy Leeds held the record for knitting socks. The girls in the chorus spent time knitting between scenes during their performances.
Allyn was an avid helper of the servicemen, contributing greatly to the cause: in 1918, she aided in a show with several other performers at the Elks' Temple for army men and navy men.
She performed in Ziegfeld's Midnight Frolic of 1918 on the ever-so-famous New Amsterdam roof, with other notables, such as Will Rogers, Lillian Lorraine, Eddie Cantor, Ann Pennington, Fannie Brice, Bird Millman & co.
The couple of years following were quite big ones for Allyn. She was part of the Midnight Frolic of 1920, she sung a song called "Shanghai," with dance accompaniment. In August of 1920, it was announced that Allyn would be featured in Ladies' Night (1920), a play that was being launched by Avery Hopwood. Avery Hopwood had placed Allyn under a three year contract.
In 1923, Allyn was engaged to Carl Weidemann after an apparent nine year romance. They never actually got married and the reason, according to the Hartford Courant was: "Allyn's refusal to give up her stage career. Weildemann didn't want her to act, she insisted on that privilege, so things went on for years." In pictures, she appeared in The Fighting Blade (1923). However, Mr. Weidemann denied ever being engaged to Allyn, stating "I am neither married nor engaged."
Allyn took part in re-runs of Ladies' Night (1920) at the Eltinge Theater. She also had a part in Sun Showers (1923), Florida Girl (1925), Seduction (1925) & Horsepower (1926).¹
In 1927, things took a turn. Allyn was placed in the private sanitarium of Dr. Alvin de Witt, located in Norwalk, Connecticut. She left in September of 1929 where she went to go and live with her aunt and uncle, Mr. & Mrs. William King at No. 116 Waverly Place.
Although she had been cleared to leave the sanitarium, things would again turn sour for Allyn. Her aunt had apparently called for her, but received no answer. When they had found her outside after jumping from her bedroom window, Surgeon O'Shea from the St. Vincent's hospital took her to Belleview Hospital. Allyn was conscious, despite her broken bones. Doctors truly believed she had a chance of recovering, but in March of 1930, her condition had deteriorated so much that she died from the injuries of her jump.
Sadly, Allyn isn't as remembered as she should be. She worked hard to become a successful actress, but never really got her chance at showing everybody what she could do. Not only was she beautiful, but she was so misunderstood.