Vivian Smith-Shiers

May 21, 1918 — May 30, 2019

PARK RIDGE, NJ — Born to Caro and Otto Schmidt, Vivian reached her 101st birthday before passing away peacefully in her sleep at her home.

Raised in Lakewood, Ohio, Vivian had such talent and good ballet training that at the age of 16 she was the first American invited to join the Ballets Russes de Monte Carlo, with which she toured the world from 1934-37.

She then joined the Corps de Ballet at Radio City Music Hall, where she met her future husband, Paul Shiers, who was in the Glee Club. They were married in 1940, and celebrated 67 years together before his death in 2007.

After Radio City, they were both in the original cast of “Oklahoma!,” with Vivian not only a dancer but also assistant to choreographer Agnes de Mille. With Paul as stage manager and Vivian as dance director, they went on the road with “Show Boat,” bringing along their first daughter, Linda, born in 1945. Vivian continued work in theater, film and TV, and after daughter Diana was born in 1958, worked as a TV Extra and print model.

Vivian was always active and up for a physical or mental challenge. She enjoyed hiking, fishing, horseshoes, rowing and riding, and puzzles and games of all kinds. When she and Paul discovered an idyllic spot in the Adirondacks in 1956, they spent the rest of their lives in enjoyment of those activities, the land and the friends they made there.

Vivian was confirmed as a Lutheran when Diana was in Lutheran school. In 1986 when she and Paul moved from Queens, New York to Park Ridge, they joined the Reformed Church. They formed strong and lasting relationships at both churches that enriched their lives. Vivian recognized that she’d led a blessed life and was grateful for the talents and opportunities she’d been given, and the wonderful experiences that resulted. She was also thankful for her family and cherished friends.

Vivian was a good sport, and will be remembered for her joy of life, sweet and generous disposition, quick and devilish sense of humor, tenacity, and incredible blue eyes. She was a loving and wonderful daughter, wife, mother and friend.

Vivian was predeceased by her husband, Paul and her daughter, Linda. She is survived by her daughter, Diana Shiers (Sean McCoy); and granddaughter, Aimie Hanlon (Tim); and great-grandchildren Tyler and Kaley.

A service to consecrate Vivian’s passing will be held at 10:30 a.m. June 15, at The Reformed Church, 65 Pascack Road, Park Ridge, NJ 07656. If a memorial tribute is considered, a donation to the Alzheimer’s Association or the Oklahoma Univ. School of Dance would be appreciated. Go to Becker-funeralhome.com for full obituary.

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