Marion Lorne – Style Icon

Born: Marion Lorne MacDougall August 12, 1883 West Pittston, Pennsylvania, U.S.
Died: May 9, 1968 (aged 84) New York City, New York, U.S.

Marion Lorne MacDougall (August 12, 1883[1][2] – May 9, 1968) was an American actress. After a career in theatre in New York and London, Lorne made her first film in 1951, and for the remainder of her life, played small roles in films and television. Her recurring role as Aunt Clara in the comedy series, Bewitched brought her widespread recognition, and a posthumous Emmy Award for Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Comedy Series.

Lorne debuted on Broadway in 1905; she also acted in London theaters, enjoying a flourishing stage career on both sides of the Atlantic. A latecomer to films, she made her screen debut in 1951, at the age of 63 in Alfred Hitchcock’s Strangers on a Train. The role was typical of the befuddled, nervous, and somewhat aristocratic matrons that she usually portrayed.

In the early 1950s, Lorne was seen as perpetually confused high school English teacher Mrs. Gurney on the pioneering sitcom Mr. Peepers. From 1957-1958, she co-starred with Joan Caulfield in the NBC sitcom Sally in the role of an elderly widow and the co-owner of a department store. Between 1958 and 1961, she was a regular on The Garry Moore Show prime time comedy program.

Her last role, as Aunt Clara in television’s Bewitched, brought Lorne her widest fame. She played a lovable, forgetful witch who is losing her powers because of her old age and whose spells usually end in disaster. Aunt Clara is obsessed with doorknobs, often bringing her collection with her on visits. Lorne had an extensive collection of doorknobs in real life, some of which she used as props in the series.

She appeared in twenty-eight episodes and was not replaced after she died of a heart attack in New York City during the fifth season, aged 84.

Bewitched producers realized that Lorne’s portrayal of the beloved Aunt Clara could not be replicated. Instead, character actress Alice Ghostley was recruited to fill the gap as the newly-created Esmeralda. Coincidentally, Lorne and Ghostley appeared side-by-side in The Graduate as partygoers Miss DeWitte and Mrs. Singleman the year before Lorne’s death. She received a posthumous Emmy Award for Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Comedy Series for her work on Bewitched. The statue was accepted by Elizabeth Montgomery.

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