Childhood & Early Life
Marshall was born Everett Eugene Grunz, on June 18, 1914, in Owatonna, Minnesota, to Norwegian couple Hazel Irene and Charles G Grunz. According to 'Social Security Death Index' records, the full name on his 'Social Security' card was “E. G. Marshall.”
His biographical entries suggest that Marshall had attended 'Carleton College' and the 'University of Minnesota.' However, there is no official record of him attending 'Carleton College.' Some of the research done after his death revealed that his name, “Everett E. Grunz” has been registered in the September 1932 batch of 'Mechanic Arts High School' in St. Paul, but there is no mention of his graduation date.
Marshall had worked briefly for a Minneapolis radio station, after which he joined a touring Shakespearean company in the Deep South. He had spent 3 to 4 years playing 'Hamlet' and some other small parts.
Marshall then moved toward ‘Broadway,’ where he earned a few supporting roles as part of the 'Federal Theatre Project.'
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Marshall made his film debut with an uncredited role of a morgue attendant in the 1945 spy film 'The House on 92nd Street,' directed by Henry Hathaway. In the subsequent years, he had uncredited roles in Henry's movies '13 Rue Madeleine' (1946) and 'Call Northside 777' (1948).
Meanwhile, Marshall did a comedy play named 'The Skin of Our Teeth' staged at the 'Plymouth Theatre' in 1942. He joined the 'Actors Studio' in 1947 and played ‘Reverend John Hale,’ a young minister from Beverly, Massachusetts, in Arthur Miller's 1953 play 'The Crucible.' He later replaced Arthur Kennedy as ‘John Proctor,’ the protagonist.
Back then, Marshall was highly active in the theater circuit. Hence, his TV and film projects took a back seat. Of his occasional film appearances, two of the most notable ones were those of ‘Lt. Comdr. Challee’ in the 1954 fictional ‘Navy’ drama 'The Caine Mutiny' and ‘Police Lt. Carl Eckstrom’ in the noir 'Pushover.'
Marshall's stage credits also include the ‘Broadway’ play 'Hope's the Thing With Feathers,' staged at the 'Playhouse Theatre,' in which he played ‘Doc.’ He appeared as a neglected philosopher named ‘Vladimir’ in the ‘Broadway’ premiere of Samuel Beckett's 'Waiting for Godot' (1956), a performance he cherished throughout his life.
He appeared in the much-acclaimed role of the ruthless ‘Juror Number 4’ in 1957 courtroom drama '12 Angry Men,' after which he was offered numerous such stoic and diligent characters of attorneys. He played ‘District Attorney Harold Horn’ in 'Compulsion' (1959) and the iconic ‘Lawrence Preston’ in the 'CBS' series 'The Defenders' (1961 to 1965).
‘Preston’ not only earned Marshall his greatest fame but helped him win two 'Emmy Awards,' too. He was not just a cast member on the show but contributed to several plot points by incorporating his thoughts and concerns about constitutional liberties and deprived communities. He even introduced the character of a black judge on the show and later enrolled into a course in jurisprudence.
Marshall is also known for playing a string of historical figures. He portrayed Gen. George Washington and revolutionary Samuel Adams in 'You Are There' (1953); the first non-colonial Louisiana governor, William C. C. Claiborne, in 'The Buccaneer' (1958); former secretary of state John Foster Dulles in 'Eleanor, First Lady of the World' (1982); Ambassador Joseph P Kennedy in the miniseries 'Kennedy' (1983); President Ulysses S. Grant in 'Emma: Queen of the South Seas' (1988); President Dwight D. Eisenhower in the miniseries 'War and Remembrance’; Secretary of the ‘Navy’ Gideon Welles in 'Lincoln' (1992); and Attorney General John Mitchell (X) in 'Nixon' (1995).
He played fictional military officials in the films 'Is Paris Burning?' (1965) and 'The Bridge at Remagen' (1969). In 'Tora! Tora! Tora!' (1970), he portrayed Colonel Rufus Sumter Bratton, the chief of intelligence during World War II.
From 1969 to 1973, Marshall essayed the role of a neurosurgeon named ‘Dr. David Craig’ in the hit 'NBC' medical drama ‘The Bold Ones: The New Doctors.’ He played a doctor again, in 13 episodes of the 'CBS' medical drama 'Chicago Hope,' (1994–1995), in which he was cast as ‘Dr. Arthur Thurmond.’
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Marshall appeared as Harry S. Truman in 'Collision Course' (1976) and as Dwight D. Eisenhower in 'Ike' (1986).
Marshall returned on stage in 1973, with the titular role in 'Macbeth' in Richmond, Virginia. From 1974 to 1982, he hosted the popular nightly radio drama 'The CBS Radio Mystery Theater.' He had also performed in an episode of 'A Christmas Carol.'
Back then, Marshall was one of the most sought-after narrators, due to his authoritative voice. He was the narrator of the documentary film 'Man: The Incredible Machine' (1975), the 'NBC' crime drama 'Gangster Wars,' and the documentary 'Tornadoes!! the Entity' (1993).
Marshall was paired with 'Academy Award'-winning actor Beatrice Straight in two political films, 'Under Siege' (TV movie) and 'Power,' both released in 1986. In 'Power,' he played Ohio senator ‘Sam Hastings.’ Interestingly, his final role was that of the ‘Senate Chairman’ in the 1997 TV movie 'Miss Evers' Boys.'
In 1957, he produced an episode of the series ‘The Alcoa Hour.’
Family, Personal Life, & Death
Marshall's father worked for a telephone company. His paternal grandparents were German immigrants. His mother had Irish and English ancestry.
Not much is known about Marshall's background. Some published records indicate his birth date as June 18, 1910.
Marshall was married to Helen Wolf from 1939 to 1953 and to Judith Coy from 1958 until his death. He was also married to Emy de Haze Winkelman for a while. Marshall had two daughters, Jill and Degan, from his first marriage. He had two more daughters from his second marriage. He also had sons Sam and Jed and daughter Sarah from the third marriage.
He was a member of the 'Committee for National Health Insurance' and a prominent advocate of government-provided health care in the US. He was a staunch ‘Democrat’ and promoted ‘Democratic’ candidate Hubert Humphrey (1968) and Paul Tsongas (1992) in their US presidential run.
On August 24, 1998, Marshall died of lung cancer in Bedford. His grave is situated in the 'Middle Patent Rural Cemetery,' Bedford, Westchester County, New York.
Despite his serious professional demeanor, Marshall was known for his wicked sense of humor. He would pull pranks on his co-stars. While filming 'The Bold Ones: The New Doctors,' he often improvised profane jokes and non-sequiturs, but nobody noticed this, as a surgical mask covered his mouth.
All his life, Marshall had refused to reveal the expansion of his initials, ''E.G.'' He suggested that it might, or might not, stand for "Edda Gunnar" or "Enigma Gregarius." In an interview, he said that it meant "Everybody's Guess." Nevertheless, he was addressed by his nickname, "Eej."