Marjorie Main

Actor, Teacher
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 ... Read more »
Born: 02/24/1890 in Acton, Indiana, USA

Filmography

Actor (58)

Meet Me in St. Louis 1977 (Movie)

Katie (Maid) (Actor)

Friendly Persuasion 1956 (Movie)

Widow Hudspeth (Actor)

Ma and Pa Kettle at Waikiki 1955 (Movie)

Ma Kettle (Actor)

Ma and Pa Kettle at Home 1954 (Movie)

Ma Kettle (Actor)

Rose Marie 1954 (Movie)

Lady Jane Dunstock (Actor)

The Long, Long Trailer 1954 (Movie)

Mrs Hittaway (Actor)

Ma and Pa Kettle on Vacation 1953 (Movie)

Ma Kettle (Actor)

It's a Big Country 1952 (Movie)

Mrs. Wrenley (Actor)

Undercurrent 1946 (Movie)

(Actor)

Murder, He Says 1945 (Movie)

(Actor)

The Harvey Girls 1945 (Movie)

(Actor)

Heaven Can Wait 1942 (Movie)

(Actor)

Johnny Come Lately 1942 (Movie)

'Gashouse' Mary (Actor)

A Woman's Face 1940 (Movie)

Emma Kristiansdotter (Actor)

The Shepherd of the Hills 1940 (Movie)

(Actor)

Angels Wash Their Faces 1939 (Movie)

(Actor)

Dark Command 1939 (Movie)

Mrs. Cantrell / Mrs. Adams (Actor)

Susan and God 1939 (Movie)

Mary (Actor)

The Women 1938 (Movie)

Lucy (Actor)

They Shall Have Music 1938 (Movie)

(Actor)

Test Pilot 1937 (Movie)

(Actor)

Dead End 1936 (Movie)

(Actor)

Stella Dallas 1936 (Movie)

Mrs Martin (Actor)

Another Thin Man (Movie)

Mrs. Dolley (Actor)

Barnacle Bill (Movie)

Marge Cavendish (Actor)

Big Jack (Movie)

Flapjack Kate (Actor)

Boy of the Streets (Movie)

Mary Brennan (Actor)

Honky Tonk (Movie)

Rev. Mrs. Varner (Actor)

Hot Saturday (Movie)

(Actor)

I Take This Woman (Movie)

Gertie (Actor)

Jackass Mail (Movie)

Clementine "Tiny" Tucker (Actor)

King of the Newsboys (Movie)

Mrs. Stephens (Actor)

Little Tough Guy (Movie)

Mrs. Boylan (Actor)

Long Lost Father (Movie)

(Actor)

Lucky Night (Movie)

Mrs. Briggs (Actor)

Ma and Pa Kettle (Movie)

Ma Kettle (Actor)

Mr. Imperium (Movie)

Mrs. Cabot (Actor)

Music in the Air (Movie)

Anna the Maid (Actor)

Rationing (Movie)

Iris Tuttle (Actor)

Roman Scandals (Movie)

(Actor)

Romance of the Limberlost (Movie)

Nora (Actor)

Royal Wedding (Movie)

(Actor)

Summer Stock (Movie)

Esme (Actor)

Take a Chance (Movie)

Woman (Actor)

Tennessee Johnson (Movie)

Mrs. Fisher (Actor)

The Affairs of Martha (Movie)

Mrs. McKissick (Actor)

The Belle of New York (Movie)

Mrs. Phineas Hill (Actor)

The Bugle Sounds (Movie)

Susie (Actor)

The Egg and I (Movie)

Ma Kettle (Actor)

The Law and the Lady (Movie)

Mrs. Wortin (Actor)

The Show-Off (Movie)

Mrs. Fisher (Actor)

The Trial of Mary Dugan (Movie)

Mrs. Collins (Actor)

The Wistful Widow of Wagon Gap (Movie)

Widow Hawkins (Actor)

The Wrong Road (Movie)

Martha Foster (Actor)

Too Hot to Handle (Movie)

Miss Wayne (Actor)

Under the Big Top (Movie)

Sara (Actor)

We Were Dancing (Movie)

Judge Sidney Hawkes (Actor)

Wyoming (Movie)

Mehitabel (Actor)

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.

Relationships

Jennie Tomlinson

Mother

Samuel Tomlinson

Brother

Stanley Krebs

Husband
born c. 1864 married from December 1921 until his death in 1935

Samuel Tomlinson

Father

EDUCATION

Hamilton College

Kentucky

Milestones

1958

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

1957

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

1956

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

1955

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

1954

Contract with MGM ended

1952

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

1950

Final feature with Garland, "Summer Stock"

1949

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

1949

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

1948

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

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

1946

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

1944

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

1943

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

1942

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

1940

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

1940

Portrayed a minister's wife in "Honky Tonk"

1940

Reteamed with Beery for "Barnacle Bill"

1940

Played a lady blacksmith opposite Wallace Beery in "Wyoming"

1940

Signed to exclusive, long-term contract by MGM (October)

1939

Recreated stage role of the proprietess of a ranch in film adaptation of "The Women"

1938

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

1937

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

1937

Brought to Hollywood to recreate stage role in film version of "Dead End"; played mother to Humphrey Bogart

1936

Appeared in "The Women"

1935

Acted in the Broadway production of "Dead End"

Began acting career with a stock company in Chautauqua; first role was reportedly Katherine in "The Taming of the Shrew"; billed as Mary Tomlinson

Moved to NYC to try to land parts on Broadway

Began appearing in vaudeville; adopted stage name of Marjorie Main

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