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Marjorie Main was born Mary Tomlinson in Boggstown, Indiana in 1890. She became an actress, but her father was a minister, so she changed her name to avoid embarrassing her family! She made her way to Broadway in 1916. At first she was playing society ladies, but it wasn't long before she settled in to "battle ax" roles, thanks to her looks and her hard, raspy voice. She started making some movies in 1931, but did not have much success. In the mid-1930s, she got the Broadway role of the mother of the gangster in Dead End, and she repeated that in the movie version in 1937, and that led to better parts, but usually as a slum mother, a tough prison matron, or similar parts. Wallace Beery had been very popular in MGM comedies with Marie Dressler, and after Dressler died in 1934, those comedies came to an end. But someone at MGM saw Marjorie Main and thought she would be the perfect replacement for Dressler, and Beery and Main made 6 comedies together in the early 1940s. In 1945, she had a major role in Murder, He Says, the wonderful zany comedy about a murderous Ozark family called the Fleagles that is trying to kill census taker Fred MacMurray ("Honor flisis, income besis, onches nobis, innob keysis"). If you like screwball comedy, you are sure to love this! In 1947, Main appeared as a minor character, Ma Kettle, in The Egg and I (nominated for the Best Supporting Actress Academy Award for this film), and her character and family proved wildly popular, and that would lead to many sequels based solely on the Kettles, and this zany Ozark couple with a zillion kids is what Main is most remembered for. After the Kettle series drew to a close, Main retired, and she passed away in 1975 at the age of 85. She is best known as Ma Kettle, but she had lots of other fine performances as well!
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