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Overview for Marjorie Main
Marjorie Main

Marjorie Main

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Also Known As: Mary Tomlinson Died: April 10, 1975
Born: February 24, 1890 Cause of Death: cancer
Birth Place: Acton, Indiana, USA Profession: Cast ... actor teacher
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BIOGRAPHY

Raspy-voiced actress Marjorie Main found the bulk of her success at an age when most actresses witness their careers waning--most memorably as the comedic hillbilly Ma Kettle. Born Mary Tomlinson, Main changed her name to protect her family from embarrassment as she embarked upon the vaudeville circuits, performing her way to Broadway by 1916. She made her film debut in 1931, but made her real mark a few years later, taking her stage character to the big screen in "Dead End," as the mother of gangster Baby Face Martin (Humphrey Bogart). Her distinct voice contributed to Main's being typecast as tough, abrasive women like the ranch manager in George Cukor's "The Women." But Main would soon gain fame as a comedic actress starring in a series of films beginning with "Barnacle Bill," as the sparring love interest to Wallace Beery. Yet her most defining character would come as the hilarious hick Ma Kettle opposite Percy Kilbride as Pa Kettle, beginning in "The Egg and I." The duo would pair up for eight more films in the popular Kettle series, with two final pictures without Kilbride. Such significant success may come as a surprise, given Main's intense fear of germs--an aversion that frequently drove her to wear long gloves and surgical masks.

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