Monday, August 26, 2013


When Marjorie Lane died on October 2, 2012 - she had reached 100 years old. However, for the most part no one new anything about her or her life. For the 100 years she was a part of this world she was a beauty - inside and out. Petite, auburn-haired, Kansas-born beauty Marjorie Lane (her real name) is best remembered as the singing voice of dancing icon Eleanor Powell in late 1930s Hollywood, but she actually garnered more personal attention at the time as a popular singing attraction in Los Angeles niteries. While she eventually gave up her modest career to become Mrs. Brian Donlevy and a mother, Marjorie still deserves more than just a footnote in the Hollywood annals.

Born on February 21, 1912 in Manhattan, Kansas, Marjorie was the daughter of Charles W. Lane, head of a Santa Fe public relations department. With no prior vocal training, she arrived in Hollywood with her mother in the mid-1930s and first earned notice at the popular Trocadero Club on Sunset Boulevard. While there she caught the eye of none other than Louis B. Mayer who quickly signed her to an MGM contract. While working for MGM, Marjorie continued her busy schedule of performing studio assignments by day and showing up nightly at the Trocadero. In 1935 she recorded "What a Wonderful World" for Tommy Dorsey's outfit.

Mayer primarily signed up the pretty hopeful for her voice. One of her first jobs was to dub the voice of Isabel Jewell in Shadow of Doubt (1935). However, once she provided the singing voice for dancing legend Eleanor Powell in Broadway Melody of 1936 (1935) on the songs "You Are My Lucky Star" and "Sing Before Breakfast," Marjorie found a Marni Nixon-like cushy spot that would provide steady employment for the next few years--even if she was more heard than seen. The singer followed Powell into her next picture Born to Dance (1936) and dubbed the songs "Easy to Love," "Rap Tap on Wood" and "Hey Babe Hey" for the dancer.

Actor Brian Donlevy met Marjorie in 1935 while she was performing at the Trocadero. They married at Christmas time in 1936, and settled in Beverly Hills. Marjorie continued her behind-the-camera singing career by once again giving good voice to Eleanor Powell in the films Broadway Melody of 1938 (1937), covering the songs "Yours and Mine," "I'm Feelin' Like a Million" and "Follow in My Footsteps," and Rosalie (1937), with "I've Got a Strange New Rhythm in My Heart".

Donlevy's cinematic career on the rise during this time, with superior work in Beau Geste (1939) (Oscar nomination), The Great McGinty (1940), The Glass Key (1942) and Wake Island (1942). As a result, Marjorie's career quickly took a back seat. Daughter Judith Ann Donlevy was born on February 20, 1943. The marriage fell apart, however, and the couple divorced in 1947.

Instead of returning after her divorce, Marjorie withdrew from the limelight completely. Her second marriage in 1952 to a Los Angeles-area doctor also ended in divorce. Her third marriage to Sumner Bates, an ice cream manufacturer, was by far the happiest and only ended with his death. Up until this past year she was living healthy and independently in Santa Monica, California. She died at the surprisingly advanced age with her family around it. She had fame in her younger years and quiet happiness in her later years - sounds like a perfect life for a 100 year old to live...

1 comment:

  1. Thank you for the nice information. I really like the old movies and I've always liked Brian Donlev