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Marie Wilson
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Comedienne
    (August 19, 1916-November 23, 1972)
    Born in Anaheim, California
    Birth name was Katherine Elisabeth White
    Best known as the star of the popular radio show, later television show, 'My Friend Irma'
    Attained popularity performing in Ken Murray's 'Blackouts' variety revue in the 1940s
    Acted in 'Satan Met a Lady,' 'Boy Meet Girl,' 'She's in the Army,' 'A Girl in Every Port,' 'My Friend Irma,' 'My Friend Irma Goes West,' and 'Mr. Hobbs Takes a Vacation'
    Her career nosedived in the 1950s.
    She was called a poor man's Gracie Allen (but hotter).
    It remains unclear as to whether or not she had been married to director Nick Grinde and LA golf pro Bob Stevens.
    She was dropped from her contract by Warner Bros. in the late 30s when she failed to make any traction as a leading lady.
    She was typecast in the roles of ditzy, glamorous simpletons patterned on her 'Irma' character.
    She had more to do with establishing the prototype for the 'dumb blonde bombshell' caricature than any comedienne up to that point.
    Ironically, she lost out on the Judy Holliday's 'ultimate dumb blonde' role in 'Born Yesterday,' which ultimately won her an Oscar.
    She was the only regular 'Irma' cast member to be brought on for the subsequent films and television show based on the franchise (none of which were as successful as the radio show).
    She said 'Irma had to be a virgin for the network. I guess if I noted any changes in television today it's the fact that a girl can work as a secretary in a series and not be cast as a virgin. That's progress.'
    One of her first roles was a bit part in the 1934 Laurel & Hardy classic, 'Babes in Toyland.'
    She worked very well with legendary voice actor Hans Conried on the 'Irma' program.
    She was a favorite of service men who visited the Hollywood Canteen during WWII.
    She was the first leading lady to play opposite the Martin & Lewis teaming.
    Marilyn Monroe admitted to borrowing directly from her persona in 'Satan Met a Lady' and the 'Irma' series.
    She received critical acclaim for playing the lead in a summer stock production of 'Born Yesterday.'
    She was the breadwinner in her first marriage, which led to professional jealousy from her husband.
    Her first marriage ended after eight years when her husband descended into alcoholism, leading to several arrests and trial separations before they finally divorced.
    She was forever known for playing a ditz, but in reality she was a driven professional who was very much in charge of her own career.
    She and her last husband adopted a four-month old baby boy after seeing him during a volunteer session at a Memphis hospital.
    She underwent treatment for cancer several times but she finally succumbed to a malignant tumor in 1972.
    Mamie Van Doren named her in her autobiography as one of the ill-fated blonde 'glamour girls and sex goddesses from decades decades past' who would not live to see fifty-five.
    Her screwball antics with Cathy Lewis on the 'Irma' series arguably laid the groundwork for the more successful Lucy & Ethel teaming, on I Love Lucy, less than a decade later (the pair even sang the 'Irma' Friendship theme song in one episode).

Credit: BoyWiththeGreenHair


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