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Subject: Archive: Mary Martin, Nov. 3, 1990

Actress, singer
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Date Posted: Tuesday, November 03, 03:38:14pm

Mary Martin
BIRTH 1 Dec 1913
Weatherford, Parker County, Texas, USA
DEATH 3 Nov 1990 (aged 76)
Rancho Mirage, Riverside County, California, USA
City Greenwood Cemetery
Weatherford, Parker County, Texas, USA

Actress. Born in Weatherford, Texas, she began taking voice lessons at age twelve, and by age sixteen, she was attending Ward Belmont Finishing School in Nashville, Tennessee. At seventeen, she married Benjamin Hagman, an accountant, and they had one son, Larry, who would become famous in his own right. They divorced in 1935.

She left her hometown to try to break into show business, and won singing spots on national radio broadcasts and performed in Los Angeles, California nightclubs, but could not win roles in motion pictures. A theatrical producer who saw one of her performances was impressed enough to cast her in playwright “Leave It To Me,” where she became an audience favorite with her rendition of the song “My Heart Belongs to Daddy.” She eventually made her film debut in “The Great Victor Herbert” (1939). Under contract to Paramount Motion Picture Studios over the next few years, she starred in ten more films, including “Kiss the Boys Goodbye” (1941), “Happy Go Lucky” (1942), and “Night and Day” (1946), which would comprise almost her entire filmography.

She returned to the New York stage in 1943, in “One Touch of Venus” for which she won the New York Drama Critics Poll. In 1947, she earned the lead in a touring production of “Annie Get Your Gun,” which won her a Special Tony Award in 1948. In 1949, she originated the role of Nurse Nellie Forbush in the Rogers and Hammerstein musical, “South Pacific,” and won a Best Actress Tony Award in 1950 for her performance.

She later continued the role in the London production of the musical. In 1954, she played the title role in “Peter Pan” for 152 performances, earning another Best Actress Tony for her work. She took on the lead for “The Sound of Music” in 1959, and remained with the show for four years, winning her fourth Tony Award. She co-starred with Robert Preston in “I Do! I Do!” in 1966 when she was once more nominated for a Tony Award.

Her career slowed after the death of her second husband in 1973, but she returned to Broadway in 1978 in “Do You Turn Somersaults?” She made her final appearance on the London stage in the 1980 Royal Variety Performance when she performed “Honeybun” from “South Pacific.”

She was honored by the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts in Washington, D.C., in 1989. She died at her home in Rancho Mirage, California the following year.

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