Happy 132nd Birthday Marjorie Main

Today is the 132nd birthday of the actress Marjorie Main. I honestly do not remember how I first saw the Ma and Pa Kettle movies, but I have a very distinct memory of them. They were very fun, clever films. The world is a better place because she was in it and still feels the loss that she has left.


NAME: Marjorie Main
DATE OF BIRTH: February 24, 1890
PLACE OF BIRTH: Acton, Indiana, U.S.
DATE OF DEATH: April 10, 1975
PLACE OF DEATH: Los Angeles, California, U.S.
CAUSE OF DEATH: Cancer – Lung
REMAINS: Buried, Forest Lawn Memorial Park Cemetery, Hollywood Hills, CA

BEST KNOWN FOR: Marjorie Main was an American character actress, best known as a Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer contract player and for her role as Ma Kettle in a series of ten Ma and Pa Kettle movies

Character Actress. She was born Marybelle Tomlinson on a farm near the town of Acton, Indiana. Mary’s father was Rev Samuel Joseph Tomlinson a minister in the Church of Christ who did not approve of dramatics as a form of entertainment. She briefly attended Franklin college in Indiana but left to attend Hamilton School of Dramatic Expression in Lexington, Kentucky, telling her stern father she was preparing to become a teacher.

Upon graduation, she taught dramatics for a year but eventually went into vaudeville in the 1910s, taking the stage name of Marjorie Main. When she married Dr. Stanley Krebs in 1921, she more or less gave up performing for several years. Krebs, a former minister and doctor of psychology, spent his time writing and lecturing. They had met eight years before when both were working on the Chautauqua Circuit. He was much older than she. For the next several years, she spent most of their time traveling with her husband and helping him with his work. Since his activities kept him mostly in New York City, she returned to the stage with his approval.

Marjorie appeared in several W.C. Fields productions on Broadway. But with the death of her husband in 1935, she began working in earnest. Her film career began with small roles in the early 1930s. The scratchy-voiced Marjorie appeared in close to 100 films during her 20 year career in both ‘A’ and ‘B’ movies. She took on a variety of supporting roles in big-budget films and she was often a star attraction in the B’s. Her first appearance was in ‘A House Divided’ in 1931 but her breakthrough role was that of the impoverished mother of gangster Humphrey Bogart in ‘Dead End’ in 1937. A few of the many: ‘Stella Dallas, Test Pilot, Too Hot to Handle, The Women, Heaven Can Wait, Meet Me in St. Louis, Friendly Persuasion (Nominated Golden Globe for Best Supporting Actress) and The Egg and I’ which earned her an Oscar nomination leading to the 1950’s series consisting of ten films ‘Ma and Pa Kettle.’

She became a starring performer along with Percy Kilbride. However, when Percy decided to retire, Universal tried to continue the Kettle films but were not successful. When Marjorie’s contract with MGM ended in 1954, she decided to work less. Her last movie was in ‘The Kettles on Old MacDonald’s Farm in 1957. She made a few appearances on television guesting as herself on an episode of ‘December Bride.’ Her last acting job was in an episode of ‘Wagon Train’ with Ward Bond in 1958.

Marjorie made a few public appearances from time to time such as riding in the annual Hollywood Christmas Parade. In a press interview in 1969, she stated she never remarried and was living alone keeping busy doing regular everyday people things, shopping, cooking and house cleaning. She was one of the many stars who attended the world premiere in 1974 of ‘That’s Entertainment’ to celebrate the 50th anniversary of MGM. Less then a year later, she was admitted to St. Vincent’s Hospital in Los Angeles where she died of lung cancer at the age of 85.

She was interred next to her husband’s remains at Forest Lawn, Hollywood Hills, who she had moved from a cemetery in Littlestown, Pennsylvania, several years before.

Friendly Persuasion (25-Nov-1956) · The Widow Hudspeth
The Kettles in the Ozarks (Apr-1956)
Ma and Pa Kettle at Waikiki (Apr-1955)
Ricochet Romance (1-Nov-1954)
Rose Marie (1-Apr-1954)
Ma and Pa Kettle at Home (10-Mar-1954)
The Long, Long Trailer (18-Feb-1954) · Mrs. Hittaway
Fast Company (22-May-1953) · Ma Parkson
Ma and Pa Kettle on Vacation (20-Apr-1953) · Ma Kettle
Ma and Pa Kettle at the Fair (11-Jul-1952) · Ma Kettle
The Belle of New York (22-Feb-1952) · Lettie Hill
It’s a Big Country (20-Nov-1951) · Mrs. Wrenley
The Law and the Lady (15-Aug-1951) · Julia Wortin
Ma and Pa Kettle Back on the Farm (10-May-1951) · Ma Kettle
Mr. Imperium (2-Mar-1951)
Mrs. O’Malley and Mr. Malone (8-Dec-1950)
Summer Stock (31-Aug-1950) · Esmé
Ma and Pa Kettle Go to Town (1-Apr-1950)
Big Jack (12-Apr-1949) · Flapjack Kate
Ma and Pa Kettle (1-Apr-1949) · Ma Kettle
The Wistful Widow of Wagon Gap (8-Oct-1947)
The Egg and I (21-Mar-1947)
The Show-Off (Dec-1946) · Mrs. Fisher
Undercurrent (28-Nov-1946) · Lucy
Bad Bascomb (22-May-1946) · Abbey Hanks
The Harvey Girls (18-Jan-1946) · Sonora Cassidy
Murder, He Says (23-Jun-1945) · Mamie Johnson
Gentle Annie (Dec-1944) · Annie Goss
Meet Me in St. Louis (28-Nov-1944) · Katie
Rationing (24-Mar-1944)
Johnny Come Lately (3-Sep-1943)
Heaven Can Wait (11-Aug-1943) · Martha’s Mother
Tennessee Johnson (Dec-1942) · Mrs. Fisher
Jackass Mail (1-Jul-1942)
The Affairs of Martha (21-Jun-1942) · Mrs. McKissick
We Were Dancing (30-Apr-1942) · Judge Sidney Hawkes
The Bugle Sounds (14-Jan-1942) · Susie
Honky Tonk (1-Oct-1941) · Mrs. Varner
The Shepherd of the Hills (18-Jul-1941) · Granny Becky
A Woman’s Face (15-May-1941) · Emma Kristiansdotter
Barnacle Bill (7-Apr-1941) · Marge Cavendish
The Trial of Mary Dugan (14-Feb-1941)
The Wild Man of Borneo (24-Jan-1941)
Wyoming (13-Sep-1940) · Mehitabel
The Captain Is a Lady (21-Jun-1940) · Sarah May Willett
Susan and God (7-Jun-1940)
Turnabout (17-May-1940)
Dark Command (4-Apr-1940)
I Take This Woman (2-Feb-1940) · Gertie
Two Thoroughbreds (8-Dec-1939)
Another Thin Man (17-Nov-1939) · Mrs. Dolley
The Women (1-Sep-1939) · Lucy
The Angels Wash Their Faces (26-Aug-1939) · Mrs. Arkelian
They Shall Have Music (26-Jul-1939) · Mrs. Miller
Girls’ School (30-Sep-1938)
Too Hot to Handle (16-Sep-1938) · Miss Wayne
Little Tough Guy (22-Jul-1938)
Test Pilot (16-Apr-1938) · Landlady
Boy of the Streets (8-Dec-1937) · Mary Brennan
The Wrong Road (11-Oct-1937)
The Man Who Cried Wolf (29-Aug-1937)
Dead End (24-Aug-1937) · Mrs. Martin
Stella Dallas (5-Aug-1937) · Mrs. Martin
Music in the Air (13-Dec-1934)

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