Acknowledgments Matt, my adorable and supportive husband Josh and Reeve, my adorable and supportive stepsons Mum and Dad, for everything Jean, for everything Mary Jo and Lou Mari Allan Ellenberger Universal Studios Archives & Collections Fairbanks Center for Motion Picture Study Kristine Krueger Ralph Armstrong, and his late beloved Mom, Ruth Indiana Historical Society Indiana State Library Turner Classic Movies University of Southern California for access to their University International Studio Archive Collection Ned Comstock—thank you for being my eyes on the West Coast; your research skills are impeccable The present work is a reprint of the illustrated case bound edition ofMarjorie Main: The Life and Films of Hollywood’s “Ma Kettle,”ﬁrst published in 2006 by McFarland.
Contents Preface 1 ONE. Mary Tomlinson 3 TWO. From Farm to Fame 9 THREE. Opposites Attract . or Not! ¡9 FOUR. Which Came First . the Kettles or the Egg? 34 FIVE. The Men Behind the Magic 48 SIX. Ma and Pa Kettle, Inc. 55 SEVEN. The Kettles Continued 72 EIGHT. The Beginning of the End. Literally 89 NINE. Percy and Pa 99 TEN. Dr. and Mrs. Krebs ¡07 Filmography and Film Facts ¡¡9 Broadway Performances ¡95 Bibliography 20¡ Index 205 v.
Preface Marjorie Main was an American institution. As Ma Kettle, she gave life to the best loved mother of American ﬁlm comedies, and maybe even American ﬁlm, period. After appearing as Ma Kettle alongside her lazy husband, known simply as “Pa” (what else?) in the ﬁlm adaptation of Betty MacDonald’s best selling-book The Egg and I, audiences inundated Universal International Studios with letters demanding to see more of these lovable hillbilly folk on the big screen.
ONE Mary Tomlinson She played a cook, a maid, a land- lady, a widow, a town gossip and a mother; however, Marjorie Main is best remembered as the gru› hillbilly matriarch with the lazy husband and the rowdy brood of ¡5 children in the popular Ma and Pa Kettle ﬁlm series.
TWO From Farm to Fame The years of drama study had paid o›, and before long Marjorie was starring on stage with the likes of John Barrymore and W.C. Fields. The humorous skit between Marjorie and Fields titled “The Family Ford” was an instant hit and played at the Palace Theater for many weeks to a packed house.
THREE Opposites Attract . or Not! A New York Daily News review of Wyoming (¡940) by Wanda Hale said, “Marjorie Main is the ﬁrst picture stealer and the greatest picture saver in Hollywood.”It was her most outstanding review to date, but Wallace Beery wanted a woman to push around, not a scene stealer.
FOUR Which Came First. the Kettles or the Egg? From the time of its release in ¡945, The Egg and I, Betty MacDonald’s humorous autobiographical account of life on a chicken farm, was a nationwide and worldwide best seller. With numerous printings year after year, it has been labeled an American classic, and rightly so.
FIVE The Men Behind the Magic March ¡5, ¡9¡5, was an historic day in ﬁlm history. It was the day that forty-eight- year-old German immigrant Carl Laemmle (later known a›ectionately as “Uncle Carl”) opened the gates to Universal City. Those gates were the entrance to the world’s ﬁrst fully self-contained lot for making motion pictures. Some 90 years have passed since that mon- umental day, and despite numerous rocky patches and a few company mergers along the way, Universal Studios is still with us. What’s more, it’s bigger, better and stronger than it ever was.