Sunday, 13 December 2015

Godspeed Marjorie Lord

Marjorie Lord, perhaps best known for her role as Kathy "Clancy" Williams on Make Room for Daddy (also known as The Danny Thomas Show), died on November 28 2015 at the age of 97.

Marjorie Lord was born Marjorie Wollenberg on July 26 1918 in San Francisco. While she was still very young she studied ballet. Her acting career began when she was only a teenager. She was only 16 when she made her debut on Broadway as a replacement Margaret Anderson in The Old Maid in 1935. She made her film debut in Border Cafe in 1937. In the late Thirties Marjorie Lord appeared in the low budget films On Again-Off Again (1937), Forty Naughty Girls (1937), Hideaway (1937), High Flyers (1937), Girls' School (1938), and The Middleton Family at the New York World's Fair (1939).

In the Forties Marjorie Lord appeared in such films as About Face (1942), Escape from Hong Kong (1942), The Adventures of Smilin' Jack (1943), Sherlock Holmes in Washington (1943), Flesh and Fantasy (1943), New Orleans (1947), The Strange Mrs. Crane (1948), Air Hostess (1949), Riding High (1950), and Chain Gang (1950). She appeared on television in Your Show Time and The Magnavox Theatre. She appeared on Broadway in Signature in 1945 and Little Brown Jug in 1948.

It was in 1957 that Marjorie Lord was cast in the role of Kathy O'Hara on Make Room for Daddy. Jean Hagen, who had played Danny Williams' wife Margaret, had left the show and her character was written out of the series as having died. It was during the following season that Marjorie Lord was brought onto the show as Kathy, a nurse hired to take care of Danny's son Rusty when he had the measles. Love blossomed between Kathy and Danny. When the show moved to CBS the following season, it opened with Kathy and Danny on their honeymoon in Las Vegas. On CBS Make Room for Daddy (now called The Danny Thomas Show) proved to be a hit. Marjorie Lord remained with the show until it ended its run in 1964.

During the Fifties Marjorie Lord also appeared on such shows as Racket Squad, The Adventures of Kit Carson, Four Star Playhouse, GE Theatre, Schlitz Playhouse of Stars, Fireside Theatre, Ford Television Theatre, The Lone Ranger, Hallmark Hall of Fame, Zane Grey Theatre, Wagon Train, and The Lucy-Desi Comedy Hour (as Kathy Williams alongside Danny Thomas as Danny Williams). She appeared in such films as The Valparaiso Story (1951), Stop That Cab (1951), Rebel City (1953), Down Laredo Way (1953), Mexican Manhunt (1953), and Port of Hell (1954). She appeared on Broadway as a replacement in Anniversary Waltz.

In the Sixties Marjorie Lord guest starred as Kathy Williams on The Joey Bishop Show. She returned to the role of Kathy Williams in the short-lived sequel/spinoff series Make Room for Granddaddy. She guest starred on The Danny Thomas Hour and Love, American Style. She appeared on the TV specials Special for Women: The Menace of Age and The Danny Thomas Reunion Special. She appeared in the film Boy, Did I Get a Wrong Number! (1966). She appeared on Broadway in The Girl in the Freudian Slip.

From the Seventies into the Eighties Marjorie Lord guest starred on the shows The Hardy Boys/Nancy Drew Mysteries, Fantasy Island, and The Love Boat. She was a regular on the short lived series Sweet Surrender. She appeared in the TV movies The Missing Are Deadly, Harold Robbins' The Pirate, and Side by Side.

There can be no doubt that Marjorie Lord will always be best remembered as Kathy "Clancy" Williams on Make Room for Daddy. That having been said, it is a very good role for which to be remembered. Kathy was far removed from most female characters on television at the time. It was she who proposed to Danny Williams, not the other way around, a move that was somewhat revolutionary for the Fifties when it was always the man who proposed. And while Kathy gave up her nursing career to be a housewife, she hardly gave up her independence. Unlike many housewives on other sitcoms, Kathy was not afraid to speak her mind, often with a tongue that was razor sharp. 

While Marjorie Lord was typecast after Make Room for Daddy, she could play other roles and often did in the B movies she made before finding film on television. In Escape from Hong Kong (1942) she played a British double agent. In The Strange Mrs.Crane (1948) she played a woman who, to hide her criminal past, creates a whole new identity. While Marjorie Lord may have been best known for playing a wife and mother, she was capable of playing other roles.

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