Another gorgeous “B” movie blonde who came and went uneventfully in the 1940s, the beautiful Tulsa-born Martha O’Driscoll started off modeling as a child. Her parents were nonprofessionals. Trained in singing and dancing, Martha was discovered by choreographer Hermes Pan in a local theater production in Phoenix, AZ, which led to unbilled bits in musical movies from 1935. Once she had her foot in the door, she was groomed in more visible parts and began pitching products for Max Factor makeup and Royal Crown Cola, among others, in magazine ads while such endorsements promoted her upcoming pictures in return.
Martha attracted film offers from both Paramount and Universal studios in her 12-year Hollywood career, which included musicals, silly slapstick and horror films. She appeared as “Daisy Mae” in Li’l Abner (1940) — the first screen version of the famous comic strip — and proved a sexy foil for the teams of Bud Abbott & Lou Costello and Ole Olson & Chic Johnson in their comedy vehicles. She played the pretty prairie flower to a couple of notable western film stars including Tim Holt, and was terrorized by the Wolfman, Dracula and the Frankenstein Monster in her most notable feature, House of Dracula (1945).
In 1943 Martha married a US Navy lieutenant commander but they separated ten months later. Following her last film, Carnegie Hall (1947) and a divorce decree from her first marriage, she married a second time to Chicago businessman Arthur Appleton, heir to an industrial empire, and retired completely (at age 25), In Chicago she became one of the city’s more civic-minded leaders, an interest that would last for more than four decades. She also served as an executive for many committees, including the Sarah Siddons Society, and was on the Board of Directors for a few of her husband’s companies. From time to time she even appeared in nostalgia conventions. Martha died on November 3, 1998, in Miami.
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