Oh, it’s a person? Who? A woman? Well, why would anyone ever name their child that! But then it was 1904….
Mignon, whose name is pronounced like “minion,” was born into an unusual family. Her father was a doctor, her mother a performer, and for a time they lived and traveled in a customized railroad car. The Lairds toured a circuit in Oklahoma, parking for a week or so in a community on a railway siding, where Dr Laird would receive patients. Mrs Laird performed dramatic readings and sang, while Mignon became known for playing the harp and dancing. The family business was similar to a “medicine show,” a type of mid-nineteenth to early twentieth century touring act that coupled entertainment with some kind of medical product or service.
From her childhood, it was almost a natural leap for Mignon to Vaudeville. The name “Vaudeville” applied to a certain type of live entertainment production, a variety show often hosted in local theaters and featuring traveling acts. Many singers, dancers, radio performers, stage and film actors from the 1890s to the 1930s began their careers in Vaudeville shows. Mignon also danced in the New York-based “Ziegfeld Follies,” a glamorous stage production of select chorus girls.
As the Follies, Vaudeville, and other types of live entertainment were supplanted by film and radio, Mignon Laird followed. Later she operated a studio for “stage dancing” and “dramatic art.” She died in New York City in 1984, and her ashes were spread at the Mignon Laird Municipal Airport in Cheyenne, Oklahoma, the site of her family’s former territorial homestead.
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