b. 25 June 1890, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA, d. 18 January 1978, Beverly Hills, California, USA. A tall, slender and immensely likeable musical comedy and film actress who graced several musical pictures in the 40s with her spunky and eccentric style and amazingly loose-jointed high-kick. Greenwood first came to notice on Broadway in The Passing Show Of 1913, and in the following year made such an impression with her ‘flat-footed’ kicks and ‘splits’ in Pretty Miss Smith, particularly in one number, ‘Long, Lean, Lanky Letty’, that producer Oliver Morosco re-titled the show Long-Legged Letty. The Letty character kept Greenwood in occasional employment during the next few years via So Long, Letty (1916), Linger Longer Letty (1919), andLetty Pepper (1922), and there were subsequent film versions. Greenwood also appeared in several Broadway revues in the 20s, but by then she had also established herself in silent movies. In the 30s she easily made the transition into talkies, mostly with comedies, but also in occasional musicals such as Flying High (1931) and the Eddie Cantor vehicle Palmy Days (1932). In 1940 she co-starred with Shirley Temple and Jack Oakie in Young People, and during the rest of the decade made effective and highly entertaining contributions to a number of 20th Century-Fox musicals including Down Argentine Way, Tall, Dark And Handsome, Moon Over Miami, Springtime In The Rockies, The Gang’s All Here, Wake Up And Dream, and Oh, You Beautiful Doll (1949). She also had her own US networked radio show in the 40s. In 1950 Greenwood returned to Broadway (high-kicks and all) in Cole Porter’s musical Out Of This World, and stopped the show every night with the plaintive (but hilarious) ‘Nobody’s Chasing Me’ (‘Nobody wants to own me/And I object/Nobody wants to ’phone me/Even collect’). Three years later she showed Esther Williams a few aquatic tricks in Dangerous When Wet, and in 1957 made her last screen appearance as Aunt Eller in Oklahoma! According to the obituary in Variety following Greenwood’s sudden death at the age of 87, the part had originally been written for her by Oscar Hammerstein II, in the historic 1943 Broadway production but because of other work commitments she was unable to accept it then.
In 1915, Greenwood married actor Cyril Ring (b. 5 December 1892, Massachusetts, USA, d. 17 July 1967, Hollywood, California, USA) which ended in divorce in 1922. Two years later she married composer Martin Broones (b. 10 June 1892, New York City, New York, USA, d. 10 August 1971, Beverly Hills, California, USA), a union that lasted until his death. A biography was published in 2007 based on Greenwood’s 1947 unpublished memoir, Never Too Tall.