Marjorie Main


Actor
Marjorie Main

About

Also Known As
Mary Tomlinson
Birth Place
Acton, Indiana, USA
Born
February 24, 1890
Died
April 10, 1975
Cause of Death
Cancer

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 he...

Photos & Videos

The Show-Off - Movie Poster
The Kettles on Old MacDonald's Farm - Behind-the-Scenes Still
The Kettles on Old MacDonald's Farm - Pressbook

Family & Companions

Stanley LeFevre Krebs
Husband
Doctor. Born c. 1864; married from December 1921 until his death in 1935.

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.

Filmography

 

Cast (Feature Film)

That's Entertainment! III (1994)
The Kettles on Old MacDonald's Farm (1957)
Ma Kettle
Friendly Persuasion (1956)
Widow Hudspeth
The Kettles in the Ozarks (1956)
Ma Kettle
Ma and Pa Kettle at Waikiki (1955)
Ma Kettle
Rose Marie (1954)
Lady Jane Dunstock
Ma and Pa Kettle at Home (1954)
Ma Kettle
The Long, Long Trailer (1954)
Mrs. Hittaway
Ricochet Romance (1954)
Pansy Jones
Fast Company (1953)
Ma Parkson
Ma and Pa Kettle on Vacation (1953)
Ma Kettle
The Belle of New York (1952)
Mrs. Phineas Hill
It's a Big Country: An American Anthology (1952)
Mrs. Wrenley
Ma and Pa Kettle at the Fair (1952)
Ma Kettle
Ma and Pa Kettle Back on the Farm (1951)
Ma Kettle
The Law and the Lady (1951)
Mrs. [Julia] Wortin
Mr. Imperium (1951)
Mrs. Cabot
Summer Stock (1950)
Esme
Ma and Pa Kettle Go to Town (1950)
Ma Kettle
Mrs. O'Malley and Mr. Malone (1950)
Hattie O'Malley
Big Jack (1949)
Flapjack Kate
Ma and Pa Kettle (1949)
Ma Kettle
Feudin', Fussin and A-Fightin' (1948)
Maribel Matthews
The Wistful Widow of Wagon Gap (1947)
Widow Hawkins
The Egg and I (1947)
Ma Kettle
Undercurrent (1946)
Lucy
Bad Bascomb (1946)
Abbey Hanks
The Show-Off (1946)
Mrs. Fisher
The Harvey Girls (1946)
Sonora Cassidy
Murder, He Says (1945)
Mamie Fleagle Smithers Johnson
Gentle Annie (1944)
Annie [Muddy] Goss
Rationing (1944)
Iris Tuttle
Meet Me in St. Louis (1944)
Katie, maid
Heaven Can Wait (1943)
Mrs. Strabel
Johnny Come Lately (1943)
Gashouse Mary
We Were Dancing (1942)
Judge Sidney Hawkes
Tennessee Johnson (1942)
Mrs. Fisher
The Affairs of Martha (1942)
Mrs. McKissick
Tish (1942)
Letitia "Tish" Carberry
The Bugle Sounds (1942)
Susie
Jackass Mail (1942)
Clementine "Tiny" Tucker
The Wild Man of Borneo (1941)
Irma
Honky Tonk (1941)
Mrs. Varner
Barnacle Bill (1941)
Marge Cavendish
A Woman's Face (1941)
Emma Kristiansdotter
The Shepherd of the Hills (1941)
Granny Becky
The Trial of Mary Dugan (1941)
Mrs. Collins
Susan and God (1940)
Mary [Maloney]
Dark Command (1940)
Mrs. Cantrell
The Captain Is a Lady (1940)
Sarah May Willett
Wyoming (1940)
Mehitabel
Women Without Names (1940)
Mrs. Lowry
Turnabout (1940)
Nora
I Take This Woman (1940)
Gertie
The Angels Wash Their Faces (1939)
Mrs. Arkelian
They Shall Have Music (1939)
Mrs. Miller
Another Thin Man (1939)
Mrs. Dolley
Two Thoroughbreds (1939)
Hildegarde
Lucky Night (1939)
Mrs. Briggs
The Women (1939)
Lucy
There Goes My Heart (1938)
Customer for fireless cooker
King of the Newsboys (1938)
Mrs. Stevens
Romance of the Limberlost (1938)
Nora
Little Tough Guy (1938)
Mrs. Boylan
Under the Big Top (1938)
Sara [Post]
Girls' School (1938)
Miss [Honore] Armstrong
Test Pilot (1938)
Landlady
Prison Farm (1938)
Matron Brand
Penitentiary (1938)
Katie Matthews
Too Hot to Handle (1938)
Miss Wayne
City Girl (1938)
Ellen's mother
Three Comrades (1938)
Old woman
Boy of the Streets (1937)
Mary Brennan
Stella Dallas (1937)
Mrs. Martin
The Man Who Cried Wolf (1937)
Amelia Bradley
The Shadow (1937)
Hannah Gillespie
The Wrong Road (1937)
Mrs. Martha Foster
Dead End (1937)
Mrs. Martin
Love in a Bungalow (1937)
Miss Emma Bisbee
Naughty Marietta (1935)
Casquette girl
Music in the Air (1934)
Anna

Cast (Short)

A Letter From a Soldier (1951)
Harry Gribbon in "Art Trouble" (1934)
Harry Fox and His Six American Beauties (1929)

Life Events

1935

Acted in the Broadway production of "Dead End"

1936

Appeared in "The Women"

1937

Brought to Hollywood to recreate her stage role in the film version of "Dead End"

1937

Cast as Barbara Stanwyck's mother in "Stella Dallas"

1938

Offered a fine comic turn as the landlady in "Test Pilot"

1939

Recreated her stage role as the proprietress of a ranch in the film adaptation of "The Women"

1940

Played a lady blacksmith opposite Wallace Beery in "Wyoming"

1940

Was signed to an exclusive, long-term contract by MGM

1941

Starred with Frank Morgan in "The Wild Man of Borneo"

1941

Reteamed with Wallace Beery for "Barnacle Bill"

1941

Portrayed a minister's wife in "Honky Tonk"

1943

On loanout to Fox, cast as a nouveau riche society doyenne in "Heaven Can Wait", directed by Ernst Lubitsch

1944

Had a featured role as the cook in "Meet Me in St. Louis," the first of three films she did with Judy Garland

1945

Loaned to Paramount and cast as a hillbilly matriarch opposite Fred MacMurray in "Murder, He Says"

1946

Once again played a cook in a Garland musical in "The Harvey Girls"

1947

On loanout to Universal, earned a Best Supporting Actress Academy Award nomination playing Ma Kettle in the film adaptation of "The Egg and I", starring MacMurray and Claudette Colbert

1947

Had a rare lead role in Universal's "The Wistful Widow of Wagon Gap" opposite Abbott and Costello

1948

Second film with Percy Kilbride, "Feudin', Fussin' and A-Fightin'"

1949

Last of a total of seven films with Beery, "Big Jack"

1949

Reunited with Percy Kilbride for "Ma and Pa Kettle" and subsequently made six additional Kettle films

1950

Final feature with Garland, "Summer Stock"

1952

Cast as the mother of a soldier killed in action in "It's a Big Country"

1954

Contract with MGM ended

1955

Final Kettle film with Kilbride, "Ma and Pa Kettle at Waikiki"

1956

Provided some comic relief in "Friendly Persuasion," playing a widow with three unmarried daughters

1957

Last Kettle film, "The Kettles on Old MacDonald's Farm"

1958

Final acting role, a guest appearance on TV's "Wagon Train"

Photo Collections

The Show-Off - Movie Poster
The Show-Off - Movie Poster
The Kettles on Old MacDonald's Farm - Behind-the-Scenes Still
Here is a photo taken behind-the-scenes during production of Universal Pictures' The Kettles on Old MacDonald's Farm (1957), starring Majorie Main.
The Kettles on Old MacDonald's Farm - Pressbook
Here is the campaign book (pressbook) for The Kettles on Old MacDonald's Farm (1957). Pressbooks were sent to exhibitors and theater owners to aid them in publicizing the film's run in their theater.
The Kettles in the Ozarks - Publicity Stills
Here are some publicity stills from Universal's The Kettles in the Ozarks (1956), starring Marjorie Main and Arthur Hunnicutt. Publicity stills were specially-posed photos, usually taken off the set, for purposes of publicity or reference for promotional artwork.
The Kettles in the Ozarks - Scene Stills
Here are a few scene stills from Universal Pictures' The Kettles in the Ozarks (1956), starring Marjorie Main and Arthur Hunnicutt.
The Kettles on Old MacDonald's Farm - Publicity Stills
Here are some publicity stills from Universal's The Kettles on Old MacDonald's Farm (1957), starring Marjorie Main and Parker Fennelly. Publicity stills were specially-posed photos, usually taken off the set, for purposes of publicity or reference for promotional artwork.
The Kettles on Old MacDonald's Farm - Scene Stills
Here are some scene stills from Universal's The Kettles on Old MacDonald's Farm (1957), starring Marjorie Main and Parker Fennelly.
The Kettles on Old MacDonald's Farm - Lobby Cards
Here some Lobby Cards from The Kettles on Old MacDonald's Farm (1957). Lobby Cards were 11" x 14" posters that came in sets of 8. As the name implies, they were most often displayed in movie theater lobbies, to advertise current or coming attractions.
Feudin', Fussin' and A-Fightin' - Publicity Stills
Here are several stills taken to help publicize Universal's Feudin', Fussin' and A-Fightin' (1948), starring Donald O'Connor, Marjorie Main, Percy Kilbride, and Penny Edwards.
Feudin', Fussin' and A-Fightin' - Scene Stills
Feudin', Fussin' and A-Fightin' - Scene Stills
The Kettles in the Ozarks - Movie Posters
Here are a few movie posters from Universal Pictures' The Kettles in the Ozarks (1956), starring Marjorie Main and Arthur Hunnicutt.
Feudin', Fussin' and A-Fightin' - Movie Poster
Feudin', Fussin' and A-Fightin' - Movie Poster
Murder, He Says - Publicity Stills
Here are a few stills taken to help publicize Paramount Pictures' Murder, He Says (1945), starring Fred MacMurray, Helen Walker, and Marjorie Main. Publicity stills were specially-posed photos, usually taken off the set, for purposes of publicity or reference for promotional artwork.
Murder, He Says - Scene Stills
Here are a few scene stills from Paramount Pictures' Murder, He Says (1945), starring Fred MacMurray, Helen Walker, and Marjorie Main.
The Bugle Sounds - Movie Poster
Here is the American one-sheet movie poster for A Bugle Sounds (1942), starring Wallace Beery. One-sheets measured 27x41 inches, and were the poster style most commonly used in theaters.

Videos

Movie Clip

Ma And Pa Kettle (1949) - Second Hand Underwear Ma (Marjorie Main) and Pa (Percy Kilbride) in their first scene from their first feature, Ma and Pa Kettle, 1949, based on characters created by Betty MacDonald.
Ma And Pa Kettle (1949) - Don't Hold With Readin' Telegrams Rogers (Ray Bennett) and the mayor (Harry Antrim) are repelled by Ma (Marjorie Main) and the kids as they try to deliver a telegram to Pa (Percy Kilbride) in the original Ma and Pa Kettle, 1949.
Ma and Pa Kettle (1949) - King Henry Model Home Ma (Marjorie Main) and Pa (Percy Kilbride) grapple with the electronics in their newly-won model "Home of the Future," in their first feature, Ma and Pa Kettle, 1949.
Bad Bascomb (1946) - When We Get To Utah Bandit Wallace Beery (title character), hiding out in a Mormon wagon train, has just learned that male converts are required to work, and he’s been drafted by Marjorie Main as Abbey, whose granddaughter Emmy (Margaret O’Brien) he’s already met, his pal Yancey (J. Carrol Naish) making out better, in MGM’s Bad Bascomb,1946.
Bad Bascomb (1946) - Thou Shalt Not Steal Fugitive illiterate title character Wallace Beery has bluffed his way into a Mormon wagon train in Wyoming, unhappy with the provisions, helping himself when Margaret O’Brien, with whom he shares top billing, appears as orphaned Emmy, in MGM’s Bad Bascomb, 1946, also starring Marjorie Main.
Stella Dallas (1937) - Stella's Got A Fella! Opening scene, Barbara Stanwyck (title character) setting her cap for impoverished society man Stephen (John Boles), then arguing with her working-class brother (George Wolcott), from King Vidor's Stella Dallas, 1937.
Meet Me In St. Louis (1944) - Real Christmas Spirit Frolicking with snowmen, Christmas 1903, brother Lon (Henry H. Daniels Jr.) put out with Esther, Tootie and Rose (Judy Garland, Margaret O'Brien, Lucille Bremer) over social challenges until family maid Katie (Marjorie Main) finds a solution, in Vincente Minnelli's Meet Me In St. Louis, 1944.
Dead End (1937) - Don't Call Me Ma! Lillian Hellman’s screenplay from Sidney Kingsley’s play, pouring on powerful scenes, as hunted gangster “Baby Face,” who’s had his face surgically altered and come home to his old neighborhood, finally finds his mother (Marjorie Main), not happy to see him, in William Wyler’s Dead End, 1937.
Long, Long Trailer, The (1954) - What Are Trailer-ites Good For? After the wedding and arriving at their first trailer park, Nicky (Desi Arnaz) and Taci (Lucille Ball) are overwhelmed by natives, led by Mrs. Hittaway (Marjorie Main), in The Long, Long Trailer, 1954, directed by Vincente Minnelli.
Belle of New York, The (1952) - Open, Angela MGM's fitting classical opening for the Freed unit musical based on an 1897 stage production, The Belle of New York, 1952, and the opening scene introducing Vera-Ellen, Marjorie Main and Alice Pearce.
Heaven Can Wait (1943) - I'd Take You Right Away Grandfather Van Cleve (Charles Coburn) takes the initiative as the prospective in-laws (Marjorie Main, Eugene Palette) and bride (Gene Tierney) of square nephew Albert (Allyn Joslyn) arrive at a birthday party for panicked Henry (Don Ameche), in Ernst Lubitsch's Heaven Can Wait, 1943.
Summer Stock (1950) - If You Feel Like Singing, Sing From the credits, we find an unusually stout Judy Garland (as farmer "Jane") singing in the shower, Harry Warren and Mack Gordon's If You Feel Like Singing, Sing, opening Charles Walters' Summer Stock, 1950, also starring Gene Kelly.

Trailer

Family

Samuel Joseph Tomlinson
Father
Minister.
Jennie Tomlinson
Mother
Samuel Tomlinson
Brother

Companions

Stanley LeFevre Krebs
Husband
Doctor. Born c. 1864; married from December 1921 until his death in 1935.

Bibliography