By Emily J. Minor
MANALAPAN — Eugenia P.
Strauss, a Michigan girl who left home for the lights and opportunities of
Hollywood when she was just 16 years old, has died after a brief illness. She
Strauss lived in Manalapan for about 25 years, all the while supporting many of
South Florida’s cultural institutions — from the Palm Beach Opera to the Jewish
Federation of Palm Beach County to the Miami City Ballet, which was always her
No. 1 love.
leaving Dearborn, Mich., as a teenager, Mrs. Strauss — who studied dance with
Bronislava Nijinska and acting with Michael Chekov — was discovered by 20th
Century Fox and signed as a dancer. She evolved into acting roles and is
perhaps best known from that period of her life for her co-starring role in the
Walt Disney Company’s TV series, The Mask
of Zorro. She also had TV roles in The
Lone Ranger, The Thin Man, and Death Valley Days with Ronald Reagan.
life has a funny way with its twists of fate, and Mrs. Strauss met her future
husband, Robert P. Strauss, as a young twenty-something at a Hollywood party.
Robert Strauss, who survives her, was the heir to the Pep Boys Auto Stores
fortune. His wealth allowed Mrs. Strauss to follow and support her
philanthropic heart. Besides the arts, Mrs. Strauss also loved animals and
supported their shelter needs.
she died May 24, the couple had been married for 52 years.
daughter, Kimberly, said her mother’s death — widely reported in entertainment
publications from Hollywood to New York — came as a shock to family and
Strauss said her mother, for all her money, success and influence, was
extremely down-to-earth. She went to the ballet not to be seen at the ballet,
but because “she truly loved it.”
was not one to steal the limelight,” said her daughter. “She was genuinely
happy, not giddy, always herself and never pretending.”
“Her greatest role in life was herself.”
Besides her husband, Mrs. Strauss is survived by Kimberly; another daughter, Wendy
Strauss; and a son, Baron Strauss. Three grandchildren also survive her.
were held the last week in May. Contributions in Mrs. Strauss’ memory may be
made to Miami City Ballet, 2200 Liberty Ave., Miami Beach, FL 33139.