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Marjorie Main



Harry Fox and His Six American Beauties



A House Divided



Broken Lullaby

Hot Saturday



New Deal Rhythm

Close Relations



Art Trouble

Crime Without Passion

Music in the Air



Naughty Marietta



Love in a Bungalow

Stella Dallas

Dead End

The Man Who Cried Wolf

The Wrong Road

Boy of the Streets

The Shadow



City Girl


King of the Newsboys

Test Pilot

Three Comrades

Romance of the Limberlost

Prison Farm

Little Tough Guy

Under the Big Top

Too Hot to Handle

Girls’ School

There Goes My Heart



Lucky Night

They Shall Have Music

The Angels Wash Their Faces

The Women

Another Thin Man

Two Thoroughbreds



I Take This Woman

Women Without Names

Dark Command


Susan and God

The Captain Is a Lady




The Wild Man of Borneo

The Trial of Mary Dugan

Barnacle Bill

A Woman’s Face

The Shepherd of the Hills

Honky Tonk



The Bugle Sounds

We Were Dancing

The Affairs of Martha

Jackass Mail


Tennessee Johnson



Heaven Can Wait

Johnny Come Lately




Meet Me in St. Louis

Gentle Annie



Murder, He Says



The Harvey Girls

Bad Bascomb


The Show-Off



The Egg and I

The Wistful Widow of Wagon Gap



Feudin’, Fussin’ and A-Fightin”



Ma and Pa Kettle

Big Jack



Ma and Pa Kettle Go to Town

Summer Stock

Mrs. O’Malley and Mr. Malone



Mr. Imperium

Ma and Pa Kettle Back on the Farm

The Law and the Lady

It’s a Big Country

A Letter from a Soldier



The Belle of New York

Ma and Pa Kettle at the Fair



Ma and Pa Kettle on Vacation

Fast Company



The Long, Long Trailer

Rose Marie

Ma and Pa Kettle at Home

Ricochet Romance



Ma and Pa Kettle at Waikiki



The Kettles in the Ozarks

Friendly Persuasion



The Kettles on Old MacDonald’s Farm


Marjorie Main was nominated for one Best Actress in a Supporting Role Academy Award for The Egg and I (1947).

Most of the time I played mothers. That’s acting! ~ Marjorie Main

Marjorie Main: Learn more about her, review her filmography and more

Biographies, Actress

Marjorie Main was born Mary Tomlinson on February 24, 1890 in Acton, Indiana at her grandfather’s (Dr. Samuel McGaughey). Main attended Franklin College in Franklin, Indiana, and adopted a stage name to avoid embarrassing her father, Samuel J. Tomlinson, who was a church minister.

Main worked in vaudeville on the Chautauqua and Orpheum circuits, and debuted on Broadway in 1916. Her first film was A House Divided in 1931.

Main began playing upper class dowagers, but was ultimately typecast in abrasive, domineering, salty roles, for which her distinctive voice was well suited. She repeated her stage role in Dead End in the 1937 film version and was subsequently cast repeatedly as the mother of gangsters. She again transferred a strong stage performance, as a dude-ranch operator in The Women, to film in 1939. At this time, she guest-starred on radio programs such as Columbia Presents Corwin and The Goldbergs.

Main was signed to a Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer contract in 1940 and stayed with the studio until the mid-1950s. She made six films with Wallace Beery in the 1940s, including Barnacle Bill (1941), Jackass Mail (1942), and Bad Bascomb (1946). She played Sonora Cassidy, the chief cook, in The Harvey Girls (1946). The director, George Sidney, remarked in the commentary for the film that Miss Main was a “great lady” as well as a great actress who donated most of her paychecks over the years to the support of a school.

Perhaps her most famous role is that of Ma Kettle, which she first played in The Egg and I in 1947 opposite Percy Kilbride as Pa Kettle. She was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Actress in a Supporting Role for the part and portrayed the character in nine more Ma and Pa Kettle films.

By the early 1950s, she had appeared in several MGM musicals, including, Meet Me in St. Louis and The Belle of New York. She played Mrs. Wrenley in the studio’s all-star film It’s a Big Country (1951). In 1954, Marjorie Main played her last roles for the studio: Mrs. Hittaway in The Long, Long Trailer and Jane Dunstock in Rose Marie. In 1956, Main’s performance as the widow Hudspeth in the hit film Friendly Persuasion was well-received, earning her a Golden Globe nomination for Best Supporting Actress.

In 1958, Main appeared twice as rugged frontierswoman Cassie Tanner in the episodes “The Cassie Tanner Story” and “The Sacramento Story” on NBC’s Western television series, Wagon Train. In the first segment, she joins the wagon train, casts her romantic interest on Ward Bond as Major Adams, and helps the train locate needed horses despite a Paiute threat.

Main married Stanley LeFevre Krebs, who died in 1935. By her accounts, the marriage was happy, but not particularly close. Her biographer, Michelle Vogel, quotes a late interview in which the actress related: “Dr. Krebs wasn’t a very practical man. I didn’t figure on having to run the show, I kinda tired of it after a few years. We pretty much went our own ways but we was still in the eyes of the law, man and wife”. Other sources indicate Main was, in actuality, devoted to her husband long after his death in 1935.

In 1974, a year before her death, Main attended the Los Angeles premiere of the MGM documentary film That’s Entertainment. It was her first public appearance since she retired from films in 1958. At the televised post-premiere party, she was greeted with cheers of enthusiasm and applause from the crowd of spectators. She died of lung cancer on April 10, 1975, at St. Vincent’s Hospital in Los Angeles, where she had been admitted on April 3, at the age of 85. She is buried in Forest Lawn Memorial Park in the Hollywood Hills.

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Marjorie Main: The Life and Films of Hollywood’s “Ma Kettle”

Marjorie Main: The Life and Films of Hollywood’s “Ma Kettle”

She was a slum mother, witty housekeeper, nosy neighbor, meddling maid, town gossip, and most memorably, Ma Kettle. Marjorie Main is best remembered for her portrayal of the farm mother of 15 children and wife of shiftless Pa Kettle. The characters were introduced in the 1945 film The Egg and I, and... More info →
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