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Marie McDonald

Marie McDonald (September 8, 1944 issue of YANK magazine)
Born Cora Marie Frye
July 6, 1923(1923-07-06)
Burgin, Kentucky, U.S.
Died October 21, 1965 (aged 42)
Calabasas, California, U.S.
Spouse(s) Richard Allord (m. 1940–1940) «start: (1940)–end+1: (1941)»"Marriage: Richard Allord to Marie McDonald" Location: (linkback:
Victor M. Orsatti (m. 1943–1947) «start: (1943)–end+1: (1948)»"Marriage: Victor M. Orsatti to Marie McDonald" Location: (linkback:
Harry Karl (m. 1947–1954) «start: (1947)–end+1: (1955)»"Marriage: Harry Karl to Marie McDonald" Location: (linkback:
Harry Karl (m. 1955–1958) «start: (1955)–end+1: (1959)»"Marriage: Harry Karl to Marie McDonald" Location: (linkback:
Louis Bass (m. 1959–1960) «start: (1959)–end+1: (1961)»"Marriage: Louis Bass to Marie McDonald" Location: (linkback:
Edward F. Callahan (m. 1962–1963) «start: (1962)–end+1: (1964)»"Marriage: Edward F. Callahan to Marie McDonald" Location: (linkback:
Donald F. Taylor (m. 1963–1965) «start: (1963)–end+1: (1966)»"Marriage: Donald F. Taylor to Marie McDonald" Location: (linkback:

Marie McDonald (July 6, 1923 – October 21, 1965) was an American singer and actress known as "The Body Beautiful" and later nicknamed "The Body".


Early life

Born Cora Marie Frye in Burgin, Kentucky, she was the daughter of a Ziegfeld Follies girl. After her parents divorced, she eventually moved with her mother and stepfather to Yonkers, New York. At the age of 15, McDonald began modeling and competed in numerous beauty pageants and was crowned Miss New York in 1939.[1] At 17, she landed a showgirl role in a 1940 Broadway production at the Earl Carroll Theatre called Earl Carroll's Vanities. Shortly thereafter, she moved to Hollywood hoping to develop a career in show business. She continued to work for the owner of the Broadway theatre as a showgirl at his Sunset Boulevard nightclub.


Marie McDonald's singing voice brought work with Tommy Dorsey & His Orchestra on his radio show and she later performed with other Big bands. In 1942, she was put under contract by Universal Studios and immediately appeared in several minor roles. That year, she appeared in three motion pictures, most notably, Pardon My Sarong, which earned her the nickname "The Body" for her shapely physique.[2] The following year she co-starred in A Scream in the Dark, a "B" detective mystery for Republic Pictures that met with reasonable success. However, that would be it as far as starring roles until 1945 when she worked for a small independent production company in another "B" film called Getting Gertie's Garter. She costarred with Gene Kelly in MGM's Living in a Big Way (1947). Despite her talent she would become more known for her figure than for any of film roles.

Marie McDonald re-enacts scene from her story of kidnaping at home in Encino.

During World War II, McDonald became one of Hollywood's most popular pin-up girls and she posed for the United States military magazine, YANK. She had married for the first time in 1940 but this marriage quickly ended. Her second marriage, to her agent Vic Orsatti, lasted four years.[3] She was also one of Bugsy Siegel's mistresses at the time. In all, she married seven times, including twice to millionaire Harry Karl, who later married Debbie Reynolds.[4] There were also romances with Eddie Fisher and Michael Wilding. McDonald's tumultuous personal life soon overshadowed her career. Tabloids regularly reported on her rocky romances, car accidents, and an escape from an Australian psychiatric clinic.[5] She also made headlines when, in 1957, she claimed she was kidnapped by two men.[6]

Despite various personal problems, McDonald recorded an LP for RCA Victor in 1957, The Body Sings, backed by Hal Borne and His Orchestra, which consisted of twelve standard ballads. She also toured the world in a very successful nightclub act. Between 1945 and 1950 she appeared in only two films and then again not until 1958 when she was cast in a slapstick comedy opposite Jerry Lewis in The Geisha Boy. In 1963, she made her last appearance in the film, Promises! Promises!, opposite a naked Jayne Mansfield.


In 1965, McDonald was found dead of a drug overdose in her Calabasas, California home. She was laid to rest in the Forest Lawn Memorial Park Cemetery in Glendale, California.[7]

Three months after McDonald's death, her sixth husband Donald F. Taylor, who was a producer had occasionally acted under the name Don Taylor, committed suicide in January 1966. McDonald's three surviving children were raised by Harry Karl and his wife, Debbie Reynolds.


Year Film Role Notes
1941 It Started with Eve Cigarette girl Uncredited
1942 You're Telling Me Girl Uncredited
Pardon My Sarong Ferna
Lucky Jordan Pearl (Secretary)
1943 Tornado Diana Linden
A Scream in the Dark Joan Allen
Riding High Bit part Uncredited
Alternative title: Melody Inn
Caribbean Romance Alternative title: Musical Parade: Caribbean Romance
1944 Standing Room Only Opal Uncredited
I Love a Soldier Gracie
Our Hearts Were Young and Gay Blonde Uncredited
Guest in the House Miriam Alternative title: Satan in Skirts
1945 Getting Gertie's Garter Gertie
It's a Pleasure Gale Fletcher
1947 Living in a Big Way Margo Morgan
1949 Tell It to the Judge Ginger Simmons
1950 Once a Thief Flo
Hit Parade of 1951 Michele
1958 The Geisha Boy Lola Livingston
1963 Promises! Promises! Claire Banner
Year Title Role Notes
1954 The Danny Thomas Show 1 episode
1957-1959 The Steve Allen Show Herself 4 episodes
1959 The Red Skelton Show Lil 1 episode
1961 Here's Hollywood Herself 1 episode


  1. ^ Lowe, Barry; Van Doren, Mamie (2008). Atomic Blonde: The Films of Mamie Van Doren. McFarland. pp. 35. ISBN 0-786-43138-5.  
  2. ^ Ayto, John; Cobham, Ebenezer; Crofton, Ian (2006). Brewer's Dictionary of Modern Phrase & Fable. Sterling Publishing Company, Inc.. pp. 96. ISBN 0-304-36809-1.  
  3. ^ "The Private Life and Times of Vic Orsatti". Retrieved 2008-12-06.  
  4. ^ Parish, James Robert; Bowers, Ronald L. (1973). The MGM Stock Company: The Golden Era. Arlington House. pp. 607. ISBN 0-711-00501-X.  
  5. ^ "Milestones". Time. 1965-10-29.,9171,941512,00.html. Retrieved 2008-12-06.  
  6. ^ Harnisch, Larry (2007-08-23). "Fuzzy Pink Nightgown". Retrieved 2008-12-06.  
  7. ^ Willis, John (1966). Screen World, 1966. Biblo & Tannen Publishers. pp. 239. ISBN 0-819-60307-4.  

External links

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