Tuesday, April 08, 2008

Marion Lorne, Actress (1883-1968)

West Pittston native Marion Lorne appears as Aunt Clara opposite Elizabeth Montgomery and Dick York in an episode of the classic 1960s sitcom Bewitched. Lorne won a posthumous Emmy Award for her role 10 days after her death in 1968.
She was a gifted and lovable star of the Broadway stage, the "brand new box" called television, and the silver screen. She was directed by Hitchcock in her film debut. She was the aunt of a loveable witch on one of TV's best-loved sitcoms. And to top it all off, she was a friend of that infamous cougar Mrs. Robinson in a film classic. She is Marion Lorne and she's a native of the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton area.

Marion Lorne MacDougall was born in West Pittston on August 12, 1883.

After studying at the American Academy of Dramatic Arts in New York, she made her Broadway debut as Marion Lorne in 1905's Mrs. Temple's Telegram. She appeared in many other plays in the early days of Broadway.

She married playwright Walter Hackett (Captain Applejack; The White Sister) and moved to London, where they founded the Whitehall Theater. Following Hackett's death in 1944, she returned to the US and starred as Vera in the original Broadway production of Harvey.

Lorne's film debut came at the young age of 68 in 1951's Strangers On A Train, directed by legendary Master of Suspense Alfred Hitchcock; her character was Mrs. Anthony. Following the film's success, she turned to television in the recurring role as the lovable-but-hopelessly-confused Mrs. Gurney on the sitcom Mister Peepers from 1952 to 1953. She also appeared in the 1955 Rosiland Russell vehicle The Girl Rush, also starring Fernando Lamas.

Follwoing a number of guest appearances on various television shows, Lorne was cast as the doorknob-obsessed, lovable witch Aunt Clara on the wildly popular 1960s sitcom Bewitched, co-starring Elizabeth Montgomery and Dick York. The show was a phenomenal success and helped Lorne reach a whole new audience.

In 1967, Lorne appeared as Miss Dewitte, a friend and party guest of Mrs. Robinson's in Mike Nichols's 1967 film debut The Graduate, starring Anne Bancroft and Dustin Hoffman. The film was a huge hit and ushered in the "film school generation" of directors.

Sadly, during the fourth season of Bewitched, Marion Lorne suffered a heart attack and passed away in New York City on May 9, 1968 . She was 84 years old. Ten days after her death, Lorne was posthumously awarded the Emmy Award for Best Supporting Actress for her role on Bewitched--her friend and colleague Elizabeth Montgomery accected the award for the late actress.

Several items featuring Marion Lorne are available to borrow from the Lackawanna County Library System--including the first 3 seasons of Bewitched, the VHS or DVD of The Graduate, and the VHS or DVD of Strangers on a Train. Click on any of these links to place a reserve.

Much thanks to the savvy Michele L. for this reference. And thanks to Erin from Childrens for the correction :-) I originally incorrectly identified Elizabeth Montgomery as Barbara Montgomery :-(

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