Poised and lovely Marjorie Lord started her long and varied career on the Broadway stage and in “B” films as a sweet-natured ingénue.
Lord was born Marjorie F. Wollenberg in 1918 in San Francisco, California, to Lillian Rosalie (Edgar) and George Charles Wollenberg. Her family transported themselves to New York City when she was fifteen. Here she enrolled in both acting and ballet at the American Academy of Dramatic Arts and the Chaliff School of Dance, respectively. Her first job was as an 18-year-old replacement on Broadway in “The Old Maid” starring Judith Anderson in 1936. Film parts from recently-signed RKO Studio started coming her way with Border Cafe (1937) and Forty Naughty Girls (1937). A few years later, she met actor John Archer after they appeared together in the stage production of “The Male Animal”. Married at the end of 1941, they settled in Hollywood after playing Los Angeles in a stage tour of “Springtime for Henry” with Edward Everett Horton in 1942. She earned a Universal contract in the process and throughout the 1940s and 1950s alternated between theater and film assignments. She and Archer separated in 1951 and divorced two years later. Son Gregg became an airline pilot and daughter Anne Archer followed in her parents’ footsteps as an actress. Most of Marjorie’s film were inconsequential, her best being Johnny Come Lately (1943) with James Cagney and Sherlock Holmes in Washington (1943) starring the irrepressible sleuthing team of Basil Rathbone and Nigel Bruce. Her greatest exposure came with TV as the second wife of widower Danny Thomas in The Danny Thomas Show (1953). She lucked into the role when Danny’s first wife, played by actress Jean Hagen, best known for her classic role as screechy “Lina Lamont” in Singin’ in the Rain (1952), asked to leave the series. Marjorie proved an able sparring partner for the comedian for seven more seasons but was unsparingly typecast as the wholesome wife thereafter. She appeared in dinner theater productions and TV guest spots but would indelibly remain Kathy (“Clancy”) Williams to her public. Marjorie gently phased her career out for the most part after her third marriage in 1977. In 1987, she returned for a short-lived run on the domestic sitcom Sweet Surrender (1987) starring Dana Delany and Mark Blum, as the latter’s mother. In 2005, Marjorie published her memoir “A Dance and a Hug”.
Marjorie died on November 28, 2015, in Beverly Hills, California, of natural causes.
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