Edit

Biography

Jump to: Overview (5) | Mini Bio (1) | Spouse (7) | Trivia (24) | Personal Quotes (7)

Overview (5)

Date of Birth 27 August 1916Butte, Montana, USA
Date of Death 19 October 1994Los Angeles, California, USA  (pneumonia following a long history of cardiovascular disease)
Birth NameMargaret Teresa Yvonne Reed
Nicknames The Big Mouth
The Female Bob Hope
Height 5' 3" (1.6 m)

Mini Bio (1)

Known as "The Big Mouth" and considered the female equivalent to Bob Hope, Martha Raye was an American icon in her own right. The daughter of Irish vaudeville performers she made her acting debut before the age of 10 as she toured the nation with her parents variety show "Reed and Hopper". In her late teens she was hired by band-leader Paul Ash as his lead vocalist and was spotted by a Hollywood talent scout during a New York City concert in 1934. She soon relocated to Hollywood were she began making a name for herself appearing in a string of successful screwball comedies alongside the likes of Bing Crosby, Jimmy Durante, W.C. Fields, and Joe E. Brown.

With the outbreak of World War II she took a break from film making to focus on entertaining servicemen and women traveling with the USO on many tour stops. She soon became even more famous for her dedication to America, its values, and its soldiers which helped earn her the beloved nickname "Colonel Maggie".

She continued acting into the late 1980s dividing her time between movies, TV guest spots, and occasional stage appearances. She passed away on October 19, 1994 after a long battle from pneumonia and was buried with full military honors at the Fort Bragg Main Post Cemetery, Fort Bragg, North Carolina. Martha "Colonel Maggie" Raye was 78 years old.

- IMDb Mini Biography By: Anonymous

Spouse (7)

Mark Harris (25 September 1991 - 19 October 1994) (her death)
Robert O'Shea (7 November 1956 - 1 December 1960) (divorced)
Edward Begley (21 April 1954 - 6 October 1956) (divorced)
Nick Condos (22 February 1944 - 17 June 1953) (divorced) (1 child)
Neal Lang (24 May 1941 - 3 February 1944) (divorced)
David Rose (8 October 1938 - 19 May 1941) (divorced)
Bud Westmore (30 May 1937 - 28 September 1938) (divorced)

Trivia (24)

Received the Women's International Center (WIC) Living Legacy Award in 1988.
Died of pneumonia at Cedars Sinai Medical Center at 1:45pm; by 2pm Harris had her body en route to a mortuary. She also suffered from Alzheimers, cataracts and liver disease, and had lost both legs the year before her death due to circulatory problems.
Married last husband Mark Harris - an admitted bisexual - after knowing him for less than a month. He was 42; she was 75.
Awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom in November 1993 by President Bill Clinton.
Had so little formal schooling, her scripts had to be read to her.
The Jean Hersholt Humanitarian Award was given to Raye in 1969 for her work with charities and entertaining U.S. troops; her estate gave it to the Friars Club in 1997 where she was its first female honorary member.
Daughter by Condos, Melodye Raye Condos (Melodye Condos), born 26th July 1944.
Buried in Fort Bragg, North Carolina.
Had a temporary falling out with daughter Melodye when Melodye had her father cremated against Martha's wishes.
Martha left the bulk of her estate to Mark Harris, but left some money to People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA). Harris spent a portion of his money designing a line of furs.
Martha Raye had a lifelong fear of flying, but because of her profession was required to make numerous air trips, which she could muster only after drinking herself into a near alcoholic stupor. Her drinking and conduct during these periods ended up with a number of airlines refusing her service, particularly on her many trips into the Miami, Florida, area, which was a favored vacation spot.
Was an honorary Green Beret. Visited U.S. Army Special Forces in Vietnam without fanfare. Registered nurse Lt. Colonel, helped out when things got bad in Special Forces A-Camps. Affectionately known by Green Berets as "Colonel Maggie."
One time band vocalist with the Paul Ash and Boris Morros orchestras in the early 30s.
Once attended the Professional Children's School in New York.
Performed in a family act called "Reed and Hooper" (their parents' names) with brother Bud. Martha (whose real name was Margaret) and Bud so consistently stole the show that the name of the act was eventually changed to "Bud and Margie."
Following the demise of her TV variety show, the breakup of her fifth marriage, and a series of other personal problems, she attempted suicide with sleeping pills on August 14, 1956. After her recovery she always wore a St. Christopher's medal, a St. Genesius medal and a Star of David given to her by wellwishers. At the end of her TV programs she also would say "Good night, Sisters," a reference to The Sisters of St. Francis Hospital in Miami where she recovered.
Born backstage at a local vaudeville theatre in Butte, Montana, where her song-and-dance Irish immigrant parents Pete Reed and Mabelle Hooper were performing. Two days after Martha was born, her mother was back doing the act.
Spokesperson for Polident denture cleanser in the 1970s and 1980s.
Biography in: "American National Biography". Supplement 1, pp. 505-506. New York: Oxford University Press, 2002.
Profiled in book "Funny Ladies" by Stephen Silverman.
Became an overnight star in 1936, after she was spotted by producer/director Norman Taurog performing comedy skits at the Trocadero nightclub, with Jimmy Durante and Joe E. Lewis as straight men. She was in front of the cameras the following day, doing a comic drunk routine in Bing Crosby's 'Rhythm on the Range'.
Raye's career was highlighted in "The Slapstick Queens" by James Robert Parish, published by A. S. Barnes in 1973.
She was a lifelong Republican and a solid supporter of Richard Nixon and Ronald Reagan in particular.
Before she died, Raye sued singer/actress Bette Midler and the producers of the movie For the Boys (1991) citing that the film was based on her own extensive experience as a much-loved entertainer of US troops during three wars. She lost in court when the judge, after hearing evidence on both sides, ruled that she didn't have a case.

Personal Quotes (7)

I didn't have to work till I was three. But after that, I never stopped.
Few people actually know me or take me seriously. I thought success in show business was the answer to everything. It isn't. I don't know what is.
"Only cowards give up the search for happiness because they're afraid of getting hurt.
My career is my whole life. I'll always work.
I must have been hypnotized by the spotlight. I never realized I was being culturally deprived, that I was having a lousy upbringing. We were too busy making a living to worry about stuff like that.
One paper says I'm Catholic and the other says I'm Jewish. I guess that's fitting because as a Methodist I'm meant to be undetermined some of the time.
I am a Republican because I believe in the constitution, strength in national defense, limited government, individual freedom, and personal responsibility as the concrete foundation for American government. They reinforce the resolve that the United States is the greatest country in the world and we can all be eternally grateful to our founding fathers for the beautiful legacy they left us today.

See also

Other Works | Publicity Listings | Official Sites | Contact Info

Contribute to This Page