The quintessential dumb, buxom blonde, Marie Wilson was born in Anaheim, CA, then moved with her family to Hollywood after the death of her father. She received her first screen role as Mary Quite Contrary in the Laurel and Hardy version of Babes in Toyland (1934), through the auspices of her then-husband, writer/director Nick Grinde. Signed to a Warner Bros. contract, Wilson cemented her scatterbrained reputation in such films as Satan Met a Lady (1936) and Boy Meets Girl (1938). In 1944, she was hired by Ken Murray to perform a comedy striptease in Murray's Hollywood stage revue Blackouts; the engagement lasted five years and 2,332 performances. In 1947, Wilson starred in the radio sitcom "My Friend Irma," which led to two theatrical films (the first of which introduced Martin and Lewis to the moviegoing audience) and a TV series. Her open, grinning face belying her age, Wilson continued doing her dumb-blonde act into the 1960s, starring in summer stock and dinner-theater productions of Born Yesterday and appearing in commercials. Marie Wilson's last TV assignment was a voice-over role in the 1970 animated cartoon series Where's Huddles?; two years later, she died of cancer at the age of 56.
photo credit: Robert Voets/CBS
by Hal Erickson biography