Birthday: February 24, 1890
Died At Age: 85
Sun Sign: Pisces
Also Known As: Mary Tomlinson
Born in: Acton, Indianapolis, Indiana
Famous as: Actress
Spouse/Ex-: Stanley LeFevre Krebs (m. 1921 – his death. 1935)
father: Samuel J. Tomlinson
mother: Jennie L. McGaughey
Died on: April 10, 1975
place of death: Los Angeles, California
U.S. State: Indiana
education: Franklin College
Mary Tomlinson, better known by the stage name of Marjorie Main, was an American “Classical Hollywood” period singer and a character actress. She was known for her roles in the ‘Ma and Pa Kettle’ movie series by Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer in the 1940s and 1950s. Main appeared in all ten movies of the series, playing the role of ‘Ma Kettle’, a role that gave her a unique identity in the show business. In her career, which lasted more than four decades, Main had played numerous significant roles on the silver screen. For her role in the romantic comedy film ‘The Egg and I’, Main was nominated at the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress. Later in her career, she portrayed the character of ‘The Widow Hudspeth’ in the civil war drama film ‘Friendly Persuasion’ and was nominated at the Golden Globe Award for Best Supporting Actress. Marjorie Main had also appeared in various popular stage productions, including ‘Scarlet Sister Mary’, ‘Music in the Air’, and ‘The Women’. Main was known for her spirituality and for talking to her dead husband, sometimes even while she was in the middle of shooting. Even though her colleagues found her behavior unusual at times, she never felt it was “abnormal” to talk to dead people.
Childhood & Early Life
Marjorie Main was born in Acton, Indiana, on February 24, 1890, to Jennie L. Tomlinson and Reverend Samuel J. Tomlinson. In her childhood, Main moved a lot with her family before settling in Fairland, Indiana.
She attended public schools in Fairland and later enrolled at the Franklin College in Franklin, Indiana, and became a member of the Delta Delta Delta sorority. She also attended the Hamilton School of Dramatic Expression in Lexington, Kentucky, to complete a three-year course study.
When her father, who was a pastor, came to know about her interest in a career on the silver screen, he didn’t support her at all. Thus, she took the stage name of Marjorie Main to avoid embarrassment to her family.
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Marjorie Main started her career as a stage artist and appeared in many Shakespearean shows. She also acted in many Broadway productions including ‘Yes or No’. Her other stage performances were in ‘The Family Ford’, ‘The Wicked Age’, ‘Burlesque’, ‘Salvation’, and ‘Dead End’.
She made her debut on the silver screen in 1931 in the feature film ‘A House Divided’. However, she was not credited in the film. In the next few years, Main appeared in many small roles, uncredited, in films like ‘Broken Lullaby’, ‘Hot Saturday’, ‘Crime Without Passion’, and ‘Naughty Marietta’.
She played the role of ‘Anna’ in the feature film ‘Music in the Air’ (1934), where she was credited for the first time in her career.
In 1937, Main appeared in a number of feature films including ‘Stella Dallas’, ‘Dead End’, ‘The Man Who Cried Wolf’, ‘The Wrong Road’, ‘Boy of the Streets’, and ‘The Shadow’.
In the late 1930s, she appeared in a number of small roles where she went uncredited. She also appeared in a few important roles. Some of her notable works during this period were ‘Romance of the Limberlost’, ‘Little Tough Guy’, ‘Under the Big Top’, ‘Too Hot to Handle’, and ‘Girls' School’.
In the 1940s, Main appeared in more than thirty films. Some of her popular performances were in films like ‘Women Without Names’, ‘The Captain Is a Lady’, ‘The Wild Man of Borneo’, ‘The Trial of Mary Dugan’, ‘The Shepherd of the Hills’, and ‘The Harvey Girls’.
In 1947, Main played the role of ‘Ma Kettle’ for the first time in her career, a role she would play nine times more in the future. She appeared in the role in the romantic comedy film ‘The Egg and I’. In the next decade, Marjorie Main reprised the role of Ma Kettle in nine more films of the ‘Ma and Pa Kettle’ series.
Marjorie Main’s iconic role of ‘Ma Kettle’ was portrayed for the first time in the film ‘The Egg and I’. She appeared alongside Claudette Colbert, and Fred MacMurray. Her character of ‘Ma Kettle’ earned her a nomination at the 20th Academy Awards for the Best Supporting Actress.
In the 1956 American Civil War drama film ‘Friendly Persuasion’, Main appeared alongside Gary Cooper, Dorothy McGuire, Richard Eyer, and Anthony Perkins. She portrayed the character of ‘The Widow Hudspeth,’ which got her nominated at the Golden Globe Awards for Best Supporting Actress.
Family & Personal Life
Marjorie Main married Stanley LeFevre Krebs, a psychologist, in November 1921. Krebs died due to cancer-related complications in 1935. His death left a big impact on her persona. The couple never had any children together.
Main died of lung cancer at the age of 85, on April 10, 1975, in Los Angeles, California. She was interred at the Forest Lawn Memorial Park.