The Eleanor Roosevelt Papers

Mayris Chaney Martin

Mayris Chaney (Mrs. Hershey Martin), a renowned dancer who worked with ER in the Office of Civilian Defense, was one of ER's closet friends for almost twenty years. Their friendship began in the early thirties after ER's bodyguard Earl Miller introduced his charge to Chaney and her dance partner Eddie Fox. ER felt so at ease with Martin that she quickly nicknamed her "Tiny," included her in the close circle of friends with whom she could relax in private (at Val-Kill and the White House, in their homes, and on vacation). Although both women had extremely heavy travel schedules, they tried to make time to visit when ever possible. In 1941, ER, as assistant director of the Office of Civilian Defense, recruited Chaney to coordinate a nationwide physical fitness program. ER's critics quickly used Chaney's appointment as the means to attack ER's role in home front defense programs and the two women resigned in early 1942. The attack strengthened their friendship and after Chaney's 1943 marriage to bandleader Hershey Martin, ER visited them whenever she came to Los Angeles and was especially pleased to be godmother to their daughter, Anna Eleanor.
Sources: Joseph P. Lash, Eleanor and Franklin (New York: W.W. Norton & Company, 1971), pp 474-475, 649-651; Joseph P. Lash, Love Eleanor: Eleanor Roosevelt and Her Friends (Garden City: Doubleday and Company, 1982) pp. xiii, 122, 167; Joseph P. Lash, A World of Love: Eleanor Roosevelt and Her Friends (Garden City: Doubleday and Company, 1984) pp. 55, 233.