But what about the equally talented stars who didn’t quite achieve this level of notoriety? It’d be my great honor to keep these stars shining just as brightly, so I’m going to begin spending a lot more energy on these wonderful men and women. I’m anxious for all of us to get to know them a little better.
First up (Marjorie Main) is a random one, I’ll admit, but I’ve always enjoyed her so much. Marjorie just seems like a perfect place to start for several reasons. For one thing, she falls into a category that a lot of these non-household names fall into. The category where we end up saying things like, “Wait a minute…. I know that face… I know that voice… where have I seen her/him from…. Gunsmoke? Andy Griffith? I Love Lucy? Was it a Western? Was it a Musical… nah, I don’t think they could sing…. Where do I know that face from?!?!”
Marjorie Main is a classic example of this because I pretty much went through the entire series of questions above recently when she showed up on an episode of Wagon Train I was watching. She was the title character in the episode “The Cassie Tanner Story.” For whatever reasons, when I’m trying to identify a face, my “go to” options are Gunsmoke (after all, who didn’t guest star on this series at some point?!), musicals, westerns, or screen time with Lucy or Andy.
As Cassie Tanner (with her adorable hat) kept looking at me from my tv, it finally hit me… Ma Kettle, it’s you!
The 5’7″ actress was born Mary Tomlinson in Acton, Indiana (basically Indianapolis). Her father was a minister which is undoubtedly why – after she joined vaudeville – she changed her last name to keep from “embarrassing” the family.
More Facts About Marjorie Main
- Her film debut was A House Divided in 1931.
- She Played Baby Face Martin’s mother in Dead End (1937). Baby Face was played by Humphrey Bogart. This role led to other motherly characters for Marjorie.
- She had a fear of germ contamination and was known to wear white gloves and a surgical mask in an effort to protect herself.
- She played the character of Ma Kettle in a total of 10 films.
- She was married to Stanley Lefevre Krebs from 1921–1935 (his death).
- After her husband died in 1935, Marjorie would often have “conversations” with him – even in the middle of filming. If she had to interrupt a scene… that’s just what she’d do! She’d let the director know when it was okay to continue and then she’d do so as if nothing happened.
- Marjorie appeared in several MGM musicals, including, Meet Me in St. Louis and The Belle of New York.
- She died from lung cancer on April 10, 1975 in Los Angeles.
Ma and Pa Kettle on Vacation Trailer (1953):