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Marjorie Main

from the trailer for Meet Me in St. Louis (1944)
Born Mary Tomlinson
February 24, 1890(1890-02-24)
Acton, Indiana, U.S.
Died April 10, 1975 (aged 85)
Los Angeles, California, U.S.
Occupation Actress
Years active 1916–1958
Spouse(s) Stanley LeFevre Krebs
(1921–1935; his death)

Marjorie Main (February 24, 1890 – April 10, 1975) was an Academy Award-nominated American character actress, mainly at MGM, perhaps best known for her role as Ma Kettle in a series of ten Ma and Pa Kettle movies.

Contents

Early life and career

Born Mary Tomlinson in Boggstown, Indiana, Main attended Franklin College in Franklin, Indiana, and adopted a stage name to avoid embarrassing her father, Samuel J. Tomlinson (married to Jennie L. McGaughey), who was a minister. She worked in vaudeville on the Chautauqua and Orpheum circuits, and debuted on Broadway in 1916. Her first film was A House Divided in 1931.[1][2]

Main began playing upper class dowagers, but was ultimately typecast in abrasive, domineering, salty roles, for which her distinct voice was well suited. She repeated her stage role in Dead End in the 1937 film version, and was subsequently cast repeatedly as the mother of gangsters. She again transferred a strong stage performance, as a dude ranch operator in The Women, to film in 1939. She made six films with Wallace Beery in the 1940s including Barnacle Bill (1941), Jackass Mail (1942), and Bad Bascomb (1946).[3]

Perhaps her most famous role is that of "Ma Kettle", which she first played in The Egg and I in 1947 opposite Percy Kilbride as "Pa Kettle". She was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Actress in a Supporting Role for the part, and portrayed the character in nine more Ma and Pa Kettle films.[3]

Personal life and death

Main married Stanley LeFevre Krebs, who died in 1935. Three authors, Boze Hadleigh, Axel Madsen, and Darwin Porter, have asserted that Main was a lesbian.[4][5][6]

Main died of lung cancer on April 10, 1975 in Los Angeles at the age of 85. She is buried in Forest Lawn Memorial Park in the Hollywood Hills.[7]

Theatre

Selected filmography

Film
Year Film Role Notes
1932 Hot Saturday Gossip in Window Uncredited
1933 New Deal Rhythm Delegate from Arizona Uncredited
1934 Music in the Air Anna
1937 Stella Dallas Mrs. Martin
1938 Test Pilot Landlady
Three Comrades Old Woman by Phone Uncredited
Girls' School Miss Honore Armstrong
Little Tough Guy Mrs. Boylan
Too Hot to Handle Miss Kitty Wayne
1939 The Angels Wash Their Faces Mrs. Arkelian
Another Thin Man Mrs. Dolley, Landlord Chesterfield Apartments
1940 I Take This Woman Gertie
Dark Command Mrs. Cantrell, aka Mrs. Adams
Turnabout Nora - the Cook
Susan and God Mary Maloney Alternative title: The Gay Mrs. Trexel
1941 The Trial of Mary Dugan Mrs. Collins
A Woman's Face Emma Kristiansdotter
The Shepherd of the Hills Granny Becky
Honky Tonk Mrs. Varner
1942 The Bugle Sounds Susie "Suz"
The Affairs of Martha Mrs. McKessic
Tennessee Johnson Mrs. Maude Fisher Alternative title: The Man on America's Conscience
1943 Heaven Can Wait Mrs. Strable
1944 Meet Me in St. Louis Katie
Gentle Annie Annie Goss
1945 Murder, He Says Mamie Johnson
1946 The Harvey Girls Sonora Cassidy
Undercurrent Lucy
1947 The Wistful Widow of Wagon Gap Widow Hawkins Alternative title: The Wistful Widow
1948 Feudin', Fussin' and A-Fightin' Maribel Mathews
1949 Big Jack Flapjack Kate
1950 Ma and Pa Kettle Go to Town Ma Kettle
Summer Stock Esme Alternative title: If You Feel Like Singing
1951 Mr. Imperium Mrs. Cabot Alternative title: You Belong to My Heart
Ma and Pa Kettle Back on the Farm Ma Kettle
It's a Big Country Mrs. Wrenley
1952 The Belle of New York Mrs. Phineas Hill
Ma and Pa Kettle at the Fair Ma Kettle
1953 Ma and Pa Kettle on Vacation Ma Kettle
Fast Company Ma Parkson
1954 The Long, Long Trailer Mrs. Hittaway
Rose Marie Lady Jane Dunstock
1955 Ma and Pa Kettle at Waikiki Ma Kettle
1956 The Kettles in the Ozarks Ma Kettle
Friendly Persuasion The Widow Hudspeth Nominated: Golden Globe Award for Best Supporting Actress
1957 The Kettles on Old MacDonald's Farm Ma Kettle
Television
Year Title Role Notes
1956 December Bride Herself 1 episode
1958 Wagon Train Cassie Tanner 2 episodes

References

  1. ^ Price, Nelson (1997). Indiana Legends: Famous Hoosiers from Johnny Appleseed to David Letterman (3 ed.). Emmis Books. pp. 130. ISBN 1-578-60006-5.  
  2. ^ Monush, Barry (2003). Screen World Presents the Encyclopedia of Hollywood Film Actors: From the Silent Era to 1965. Hal Leonard Corporation. pp. 458. ISBN 1-557-83551-9.  
  3. ^ a b "Marjorie Main Biography (1890-1975)". filmreference.com. http://www.filmreference.com/film/16/Marjorie-Main.html. Retrieved 2009-08-03.  
  4. ^ "I want to be alone with her" Jon Newlin Contributing writer. Times - Picayune. New Orleans, La.: Jan 28, 2001. pg. 06
  5. ^ "Phoney marriage: a must for every gay Hollywood actor" AXEL MADSEN. The Guardian. Manchester (UK): Sep 18, 1998. pg. T.010
  6. ^ Poreter, Darwin. Katharine the Great: Secrets of a Lifetime Revealed Blood Moon Productions, Ltd. 2004 ISBN 0974811807
  7. ^ Nissen, Axel (2006). Actresses of a Certain Character: Forty Familiar Hollywood Faces From the Thirties To the Fifties. McFarland. pp. 117. ISBN 0-786-42746-9.  

External links

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