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Marie McDonald Poster

Biography

Jump to: Overview (5)  | Mini Bio (2)  | Spouse (7)  | Trivia (16)  | Personal Quotes (4)

Overview (5)

Born in Burgin, Kentucky, USA
Died in Calabasas, California, USA  (overdose)
Birth NameCora Marie Frye
Nickname The Body
Height 5' 6½" (1.69 m)

Mini Bio (2)

Kentucky-born Marie McDonald, born Cora Marie Frye in 1923, was a leggy, voluptuous blonde starlet who pursued her career with a vengeance but found little reward in the end. Her mother was a former Ziegfeld girl and her grandmother an operatic singer. Her father, on the other hand, was not so artistically inclined, earning a living as a warden at Leavenworth Prison. Her parents divorced when Marie was just 6 years old. Marie's mother remarried and the new family moved to Yonkers, New York, where she attended Roosevelt High School and excelled in piano and wrote for the school newspaper.

Although Marie was offered a college scholarship by Columbia University in journalism, Marie's impressive beauty and physical assets propelled her to try a show business career. A Powers model at 15 (she lied about her age), she quit high school and started entering beauty contests, winning the "Miss Yonkers" and "The Queen of Coney Island" titles, among others. In 1939 she was crowned "Miss New York," but subsequently lost at the "Miss America" pageant.

The attention she received from her beauty titles, however, pointed her straight to the Broadway stage and the "George White's Scandals of 1939." This in turn led to her move to Los Angeles, finding work in the chorus line while trying to break into pictures. She found her first singing work with Tommy Dorsey & His Orchestra on his radio show and eventually joined other bands as well. Although Universal signed her up, she couldn't get past a few one-line jobs. She knew publicity would have to be her mode of operation if she was to draw the necessary attention and advance her career.

Press agents dubbed Marie "The Body" and the tag eventually stuck. Though her physical attributes were impressive, her talent was less so. Managing to come her way were the films Guest in the House (1944), Living in a Big Way (1947) with Gene Kelly and Tell It to the Judge (1949). Marie was once in contention for the Billie Dawn role in "Born Yesterday," which could have been her big break, but she lost out to Judy Holliday. The audience simply didn't latch on to Marie and she ended up more on the road doing bus-and-truck shows than anything else.

Despite a plethora of tabloid attention, which included her seven marriages and numerous sex scandals in addition to the publicity hijinks she managed to muster up, notoriety that would have made the late Jayne Mansfield envious, Marie's career eventually stalled and she turned to drink, drugs and despair. This led to frequent skirmishes with the law and more than a few nervous breakdowns. Her last effective role was in the Jerry Lewis starrer The Geisha Boy (1958) where she gamely played a snippy movie star at the mercy of the comedian's outrageous slapstick. In 1965, at age 42, the never-say-die gal finally decided enough was enough and she ended it all with an overdose of pills.

- IMDb Mini Biography By: Gary Brumburgh / gr-home@pacbell.net

Marie McDonald became one of the most popular pin-up girls of the 1940's. She had a promising career but it was overshadowed by her countless personal problems. Marie was born on July 6, 1923, in Burgin, Kentucky. Her real name was Cora Marie Frye. She was the only child of Marie and Everett Frye, an engineer. Marie attended grammar school in the small town of Hazard. When she was six years old her parents divorced and she moved to New York City with her mother. In 1935 Marie's mother married nightclub owner John Tuboni. Marie wanted to become a journalist but her mother encouraged her to go into show business. She dropped out of Roosevelt high school and turned down a scholarship to college. Marie signed with the prestigious John Robert Powers modeling agency. She won numerous beauty titles and competed in the 1939 Miss America pageant. Her overprotective mother traveled with her everywhere to make sure she didn't get into trouble. Marie appeared on Broadway in George White's Scandals Of 1939 and Earl Carroll's Vanities. In 1940 she eloped with actor Richard Allord. She walked out on him a three weeks later when she discovered he gave her a fake diamond ring. Marie later had the marriage annulled. She started a relationship with Sir Charles Frederick Bernard, a theatrical entrepreneur. He paid for her to get the space between her two front teeth fixed. Marie moved to Hollywood in 1940 and found a job dancing at The Florentine Gardens. She decided to return to New York City but a chance encounter with band leader Tommy Dorsey changed her plans. Tommy heard Marie singing at a nightclub and hired her to perform on his radio show. A job singing with the Charlie Barnett orchestra brought Marie back to New York City in 1941. To make extra money she worked as a cigarette girl at the Central Club. A talent scout saw her at the club and offered her a contract at Universal. Marie was given small roles in films like It Started With Eve and Pardon My Sarong. She had a serious romance with actor Bruce Cabot and the press reported that they were engaged. After being dropped by Universal she hired agent Vic Orsatti. He helped her get a contract with Paramount in July 1942.

Marie's career really took off when she dyed her hair platinum blonde. She costarred with Paulette Goddard in I Love A Soldier and with Alan Ladd in Lucky Jordan. Marie dumped Bruce and started dating Vic. They eloped on January 10, 1943 in Reno, Nevada. When Paramount did not renew her contract she signed with producer Hunt Stromberg. He gave her a role in the 1944 drama Guest In The House. Although Marie's part was small her performance earned rave reviews. The following year she was given her first leading role in the comedy Getting Gertie's Garter. Marie was nicknamed "The Body" and posed for countless cheesecake pictures. She became one of the most popular pin-ups during World War 2. Marie divorced Vic in 1946 but he continued to be her agent. She had short-lived romances with Cuban millionaire Jose Noval and mobster Benjamin "Bugsy" Siegel. Unhappy with the roles she was getting Marie sued Hunt Stromberg. She claimed he stole money from her and failed to promote her career. Marie signed a lucrative contract with MGM in October 1946. She was cast opposite Gene Kelly in the musical Living In A Big Way. The movie was a critical and commercial flop. MGM blamed Marie for it's failure and she bought out her contract. She began dating Harry Karl, a wealthy shoe tycoon. The couple was married on September 19, 1947. Marie tried to change her image by going back to her natural brown hair color but her career stalled. She could only get supporting roles in low budget movies like Tell It To The Judge and Once A Thief. Marie appeared on several television shows and starred in a Los Angeles stage production of Born Yesterday. She suffered from many health problems including ulcers and frequent fainting spells. Harry spent more than one million dollars trying to cure her. Marie desperately wanted to be a mother but she had six miscarriages. In early 1950 she convinced Harry to adopt a daughter they named Denise Susan. A few months later they adopted a son named Randolph Harrison.

Marie happily announced that she was retiring to be a full-time mother. She got pregnant in 1952 but sadly when she was six months pregnant the baby was stillborn. By this time Marie was struggling with a serious addiction to prescription drugs. On June 21, 1954 she was arrested for driving while under the influence of sedatives after she crashed into three parked cars. She agreed to plead guilty to a misdemeanor charge of hit-and-run driving and was fined $50. Marie and Harry had a rocky marriage and they separated numerous times. They were divorced in November 1954. In court Marie told the judge that she was allergic to her husband. A few months after the divorce they rekindled their relationship and were remarried on June 14, 1955. The following year Marie was thrilled to discover she was pregnant again. During the fifth month of her pregnancy she got into a fight with Harry. He beat her so badly she almost lost the baby. Marie filed for divorce in May 1956. She gave birth to a daughter named Tina Marie on September 18, 1956. Unfortunately Marie had continued using prescription drugs during her pregnancy and as a result the baby spent several weeks in an incubator. Tina Marie also suffered from learning disabilities when she was a child. Marie reconciled with Harry and stopped the divorce proceedings. In November 1956 she crashed her Cadillac into a tree in Hollywood. She made headlines again a few months later when she told police she had been kidnapped from her home. There was an investigation but she was accused of making up story up for publicity. During the summer of 1957 Marie joined Bob Hope and Eddie Fisher on a USO tour. She enjoyed a brief affair with Eddie Fisher, who was married to Debbie Reynolds. Marie tried to make a comeback by recording an album called The Body Sings. She also toured the country in her own nightclub act. Marie sued the Fairmont Hotel in San Francisco after she was injured during a show. In 1958 Marie landed a role opposite Jerry Lewis in the comedy The Geisha Boy. That same year her unhappy marriage to Harry finally came to an end.

Depressed over the divorce she attempted suicide in June 1958 by swallowing a bottle of aspirin. Marie was now dating Michael Wilding, ex-husband of Elizabeth Taylor, but the romance fizzled when he went to England to star in a play. She was briefly engaged to a stockbroker named Blake Garner. In May 1959 she married Louis Bass, an agent, but the marriage lasted only ten months. At the divorce hearing she said that Louis bored her. She married Edward F. Calahan, a lawyer, on August 7, 1962. Six weeks later she had the marriage annulled. In March 1963 Marie suffered a nervous breakdown while in Australia. She was committed to a psychiatric clinic but she ran away after only a few days. Four months later Marie was arrested for forging a prescription. She was fined $250 and put on probation for three years. Her last film was the 1963 comedy Promises! Promises!. Marie started dating the movie's producer Donald F. Taylor. Promises! Promises!, which featured several nude scenes with Jayne Mansfield, was a box-office flop. In November 1963 Marie married Donald. It was a violent marriage and they separated in 1964. The couple reconciled and Marie devoted herself to being a homemaker. She also planned to start her own cosmetics line. On October 20, 1965 Marie was in good spirits and went to bed at 9:30 PM. The next morning Donald found her slumped over a dressing table in their bedroom. He carried her to the bed and called an ambulance but it was too late. Marie had died from an overdose of pills. She was just forty-two years old. Her death was ruled an accident but many people believe that she actually committed suicide. She was buried at Forest Lawn Memorial Park in Glendale, California. Donald was inconsolable after Marie's death. Tragically on January 2, 1966 he killed himself with an overdose of barbiturates in the same bedroom where she had died. A beautiful body and notorious scandals made Marie a star but she was much more than that. Marie's fans know that she a talented actress, a gifted singer, and a devoted mother to her three children.

- IMDb Mini Biography By: Elizabeth Ann

Spouse (7)

Donald F. Taylor (1 November 1963 - 21 October 1965) ( her death)
Edward F. Callahan (6 August 1962 - 5 September 1963) ( annulled)
Louis Bass (23 May 1959 - 8 April 1960) ( divorced)
Harry Karl (14 June 1955 - 16 April 1958) ( divorced) ( 1 child)
Harry Karl (19 September 1947 - 23 November 1954) ( divorced) ( 2 children)
Victor M. Orsatti (10 January 1943 - 16 May 1947) ( divorced)
Richard Allord (24 September 1940 - 23 September 1941) ( annulled)

Trivia (16)

Interred at Forest Lawn, Glendale, California, in the Freedom Mausoleum, Sanctuary of Heritage.
Singer.
Married seven times, twice to Harry Karl, the shoe tycoon who went on to marry Debbie Reynolds and lose both his and her fortunes.
In one of her many publicity stunts, police reports state that Marie was found on a desert road in her pajamas ranting and raving that she had been kidnapped from her home by two men.
Killed herself with an overdose of Percodan. Her seventh husband, Donald F. Taylor, committed suicide shortly after.
Her two older children are adopted.
When she was still a child her parents divorced and she and her mother moved to Yonkers, NY, where her mother married a man whose last name was McDonald and who ran a hardware store. Marie worked as a journalist on her high school newspaper, but dropped out of school at 15 and began working for a modeling agency. She competed in beauty pageants, including the Miss New York competition, several of which she won.
She replaced sexpot Mamie Van Doren in the movie Promises..... Promises! (1963) but had numerous fights on the set with the other bombshell star Jayne Mansfield. She married the producer of that movie, Donald F. Taylor, who would be her last husband.
After several miscarriages, she adopted two children, Denise "Dede" and Harrison "Bo", between 1951-54. A daughter, Tina Marie, was born later in 1956.
Her 1962 marriage to Los Angeles lawyer and banker Edward F. Callahan was annulled after 48 hours. They officially divorced in 1963.
Was the model used by illustrator Alex Raymond for the Dale Arden and Princess Aura creations for the Flash Gordon comic strip.
Some of the beauty titles Marie held were Miss Yonkers, Miss Loew's Paradise, Queen of Coney Island and Miss New York.
Harry Karl, the father of her three children, did not want them after Marie died. His wife at the time, Debbie Reynolds, insisted they move in with him anyway.
Her daughter, Tina, was born with drugs in her system. She had severe problems related to this while growing up.
Her marriages to Harry Karl were the inspiration for the film The Marrying Man (1991).
Was the favorite actress of Bugsy Siegel.

Personal Quotes (4)

Husbands are easier to find than good agents.
The Hollywood producers don't realize I can sing. They don't realize I can act, either. When they want window-dressing for one of their movies they say, "Bring in The Body".
When a woman is in love she is really living; when she isn't, she's only existing. Love is more important to me than success. I'd much rather have the agony of love than have great success and drabness without it.
I have no delusions about movie stardom. I don't think it can whisk me out of realities. The fame itself isn't important to me.

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