Lovely, innocent-looking, well-endowed comedienne Marie Wilson was a featherbrained delight instantly reminiscent of the zany Gracie Allen. Unlike Allen, however, Marie was a knockout--with high cheekbones, a wide slash of a mouth and a figure that wouldn't quit.She was born Katherine Elizabeth Wilson on August 19, 1916, in Anaheim, California. Her family moved to Hollywood after her businessman father's death and Marie set her sights on an entertainment career while quite young. Educated at Miss Page School and the Hollywood Cumnock School for Girls, she found extra work in films upon graduation and made ends meet at one point by taking a job as a salesgirl in a department store. Her big break occurred after an "accidental" meeting with director Nick Grinde. The relationship grew intimate, and he was instrumental in the formulation of her early Hollywood career. She appeared in his comedy short Bum Voyage (1934) with the inimitable Sterling Holloway and, to start with, had an extra part in Grinde's feature film Ladies Crave Excitement (1935).After the 18-year-old was cast (unbilled) as Mary, Quite Contrary in the Stan Laurel and Oliver Hardy musical fantasy Babes in Toyland (1934), Marie started sharpening up her "dumb blonde" skills. It was Grinde who helped secure for her a contract at Warner Brothers in 1935. She would stay with the studio for four years. After making her Warners debut in Broadway Hostess (1935), Marie adroitly moved around and about the "B"-level chain (along with an intermittent "A" movie). As the quintessential dizzy, dim-witted foil, Marie scored in a number of Prohibition-styled entertainment showcases, including the comedy potboilers _Stars Over Broadway (1935), _Miss Pacific Fleet (1936)_, Satan Met a Lady (1936), Melody for Two (1937), Public Wedding (1937) (directed by Grinde), The Great Garrick (1937), Fools for Scandal (1938), Boy Meets Girl (1938) (one of her best), Broadway Musketeers (1938) and Sweepstakes Winner (1939). Her last film for Warners was the forgettable The Cowboy Quarterback (1939).Following the termination of her Warners contract in 1939, Marie had trouble securing film work. As compensation, she found great stage success as the sexy stooge for impresario Ken Murray in his extremely popular Los Angeles "Blackout" vaudeville-styled stage shows of the early 1940s. Her mock striptease bit was a particular highlight and she stayed with the show for an incredible seven years. Intermixed were an array of film opportunities for various studios: Rookies on Parade (1941), She's in the Army (1942), The Fabulous Joe (1947), A Girl in Every Port (1952), Never Wave at a WAC (1953), Marry Me Again (1953) and her last, Mr. Hobbs Takes a Vacation (1962). She reached her "dumb blonde" zenith with the successful radio, film and TV versions of My Friend Irma (1949). Most of her subsequent kooky characterizations from then on were patterned on her Irma persona.A smart, ambitious woman known to do crazy stunts for publicity, Marie took to the stage, nightclub and TV circuits once her film career bottomed out after the spectacular arrival of Marilyn Monroe. On the road in summer stock and dinner theater engagements, Marie appeared to fine advantage in such well-suited vehicles as "Bus Stop," "Born Yesterday and "Gentlemen Prefer Blondes." One of her last roles was in animated form as a voice in the cartoon "Where's Huddles?" (1970).Married twice, she had an adopted son, Gregson (Greg) via her second marriage to actor/TV producer Robert Fallon. Her first, to actor Allan Nixon, ended in divorce. Marie had undergone surgery several times for cancer by the time she died at age 56, surrounded by her family, in 1972.
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