"Gargoyles & Graffiti"chronicles architectural elements that I find interesting or unique in my travels. Gargoyles are my passion, but today graffiti (which I hate but am learning to love as it is everywhere) is as much a part of architecture as the gargoyles and decorative railings that thrill me.

Monday, August 27, 2012

Eze Cemetery: Mary Margaret Townsend

Peggy Davis possibly Mary Margaret Townsend
Gravestone of Mary Margaret Townsend

This was the first gravestone photo I took in the Eze Cemetery. It was so hauntingly beautiful and unique that it struck my eye. I never really focused on the dates that she was born and died, and only realized after finding out more about her that she only lived 25 years.  With a name like Mary Margaret Townsend, I assumed I would not find much information on her, but I could not have been more wrong. 

Mary Margaret Townsend was also known by her stage name, Peggy Davis. She had been a Broadway (Ziegfeld) Follies girl and first married at the age of 12. Her first two husbands were both bigamists and both marriages were annulled. She ended up on the French Riviera with her third husband and died, apparently of suicide or accident. Her car went over the embankment near Eze on one of the Cornice roads. She drank two double brandies, then wrote a quick note and drove off. There is much speculation about what actually happened that night, but it truly sounds like something out of an F. Scott Fitzgerald novel or even the plot of The Blind Assassin.

From one website I found, her husband said .... 

"My wife adored the Riviera. Here she desired to live, here she died, and it is fitting that she rest here forever," Mr. Townsend remarked after the funeral service. And in that grave ended the remarkable career of a stage butterfly, who, at the age of 25, had lived more than most women of 75.

More information about the life of Mary Margaret Townsend can be found here

Another exert from the same website ...

March 30, 1931
Birmingham, AL

A nine-year-old girl, whose nimble feet, and soprano voice attracted attention here in 1914, became a Broadway Follies beauty known as Peggie Davis and later the wife of David Townsend, Wall Street broker.

She was born here December 31, 1905, as Mary Margaret Laird, and in childhood she showed unusual ability in dancing and singing and won much attention.

Her father was a traveling salesman, and the family has since moved from the city.

The titan-haired beauty was married at age 13 to Colonel J. A. Davies, 43, of the ordinance department, United States Army, November 3, 1918. The marriage was annulled a year later. At the time the action was filed here she was working in the films in Los Angeles. Her complaint charged Davies had another wife in Texas.

Among the pictures in which she appeared was "Under Two Flags” with Theda Bara.



I also found a notice about her death in a 1931 newspaper from Florence, Alabama. Mary Margaret Laird (her maiden name) was born in Birmingham, Alabama, according to this newspaper account. Click here to read the full article.

I wonder now what drew me to these particular graves. This was definitely a sadder tale than the first. RIP, Mary Margaret!

2 comments:

  1. I saw some of these photos on aol photos! Impressive. They referred back to your blog!

    ReplyDelete