Historical Albion Michigan
By Frank Passic

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Any photos not otherwise credited are from the personal collection of Frank Passic, Albion Historian.

VIOLET WELBURN

Morning Star, April 10, 2005 pg. 2

Albion once had a movie star. Actually, she was a professional Broadway dancer who was in Hollywood movies. Her name was Violet Welburn. Violet was born in Detroit in 1899, the daughter of Alfred and Rose (Wilsher) Welburn. The family moved to Albion in 1908, where Alfred engaged in the painting and decorating trade here. He was an accomplished artist, and his paintings can still be found in the Albion area today. We’ll write a story about him in the future when we can obtain his photograph.

Violet attended the Albion Public Schools at Central School on E. Michigan Avenue, the site of the present-day Washington Gardner facility. She would have been in the AHS Class of 1917. Her dancing talents, however, became quite apparent, and at age 16 she left Albion for New York City for training as a professional dancer. She was trained by Fred LeQuarne, and her stage name became Violet DeLong. Fred became her professional dancing partner, and the two danced on Broadway for ten years under the name of LeQuarne & DeLong. During one year they were a special act with the popular Ziegfield Follies.

The duo made several successful tours to Europe, which included a command performance before King George of England. Violet was known as the “woman with the $1 million dollar legs,” because her legs were actually insured for that amount. LeQuarne & DeLong also toured Mexico and South America, as well as in Canada where they performed before English nobility, including Lord Ramsey.

Because of her talents, Violet was invited to perform in dancing scenes in several Hollywood motion pictures which she did. People noticed her physical resemblance to the actor Lana Turner, which was a plus for Violet. One movie she performed in was “The Merry Widow Waltz.” She also substituted for actor Mae Murray in some of her film dance scenes. Violet eventually moved to Hollywood and her stage name was changed to Teloi Reese. She danced with Charles Renard under the stage act name “Reese and Renard.” She continued to perform in movie dancing scenes, and pictures of her occasionally appeared in movie and women’s magazines.

Violet married John Pedersen, at which time she retired from professional dancing. The couple lived in San Francisco, where Violet continued her association in the movie business as an active member of the Actor’s Guild. She died in San Francisco on February 19, 1949. Her remains were brought back to Albion and she was interred next to her parents in Block 118 in Riverside Cemetery, under the name of Violet Pedersen. Her husband John passed away in the early 1960s.

In 1945, Violet had returned to Albion on account of the illness and death of her mother. During that time she also visited her brother Howard “Bud” Welburn who lived at 224 River St. Next door at 222 River St. lived the Donald McAuliffe family. Violet gave an autographed photo of herself to the oldest McAuliffe daughter, Sue Ann. From our Historical Notebook this week we present that autographed photo, courtesy of Don McAuliffe. How many persons remember Violet Welburn?


Violet (Welburn) Delong

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