The Norfolk, Virginia native joined the Ziegfeld Follies when she was 14 years old in 1918. She may have been the youngest chorus girl brought into the troupe, which performed elaborate French-inspired productions on Broadway, because she lied about her age.
“It was beauty, elegance, loveliness,” Travis said of a Ziegfeld performance in a 2005 Times interview, “beauty and elegance like a French painting of a woman’s body.” Florenz Ziegfeld created the Ziegfeld Follies in 1907. It featured lines of high-kicking chorus girls, or Ziegfeld girls, and performed until 1931.
Travis danced from 1918 to 1920 with the troupe, and then became an Arthur Murray dance instructor and local television personality in Detroit. She was a fervent supporter of the Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS fundraising organization and appeared often in its annual Easter Bonnet Competition.