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Marjorie Rambeau (July 15, 1889 – July 6, 1970) was an American film and stage actress.[1]

Marjorie Rambeau
Marjorie Rambeau 1915.jpg
Rambeau circa 1915
Born (1889-07-15)July 15, 1889
San Francisco U.S.
Died July 6, 1970(1970-07-06) (aged 80)
Palm Springs, California U.S.
Resting place Desert Memorial Park, Cathedral City, California
Other names Majorie Rambeau
Florence Rambeau
Occupation actress
Years active 1901–1957
Spouse(s) Willard Mack (1913–17)
Hugh Dillman (1919–23)
Francis A. Gudger (1931–67)


Early lifeEdit

Rambeau was born in San Francisco to Marcel and Lilian Garlinda (née Kindelberger) Rambeau. Her parents separated when she was a child. She and her mother went to Nome, Alaska, where young Marjorie dressed as a boy, sang, and played the banjo in saloons and music halls. Her mother insisted she dress as a boy to thwart amorous attention from drunken grown men in such a wild and woolly outpost as Nome.[2] She began performing on the stage at the age of 12. She attained theatrical experience in a rambling early life as a strolling player. Finally she made her Broadway debut on March 10, 1913, in a tryout of Willard Mack's play, Kick In.[3]


In her youth she was a Broadway leading lady. In 1921, Dorothy Parker memorialized her in verse:

If all the tears you shed so lavishly / Were gathered, as they left each brimming eye. / And were collected in a crystal sea, / The envious ocean would curl up and dry— / So awful in its mightiness, that lake, / So fathomless, that clear and salty deep. / For, oh, it seems your gentle heart must break, / To see you weep. ...[4]

Her silent films with the Mutual company included Mary Moreland and The Greater Woman (1917). The films were not major successes but did expose Rambeau to film audiences. By the time talkies came along she was in her early forties and she began to take on character roles in films such as Min and Bill, The Secret Six, Laughing Sinners, Grand Canary, Joe Palooka, and Primrose Path, for which she was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress.

In 1940, Rambeau had the title role in Tugboat Annie Sails Again as well as second billing under Wallace Beery (the co-star of the original Tugboat Annie) in 20 Mule Team; she also played an Italian mother in East of the River. Other films included Tobacco Road, A Man Called Peter, and Broadway. In 1953, she was again nominated for an Oscar, this time for Torch Song. In 1957, she appeared in a supporting role in Man of a Thousand Faces, a biographical film about the life of Lon Chaney, although she never worked with the real Chaney in silent films.

Rambeau played a supporting role in Min and Bill with Marie Dressler. Tugboat Annie was a follow up to Min and Bill, even though it was not a sequel. Rambeau replaced Dressler after her death as Tugboat Annie in the sequel Tugboat Annie Sails Again .

For her contribution to the motion picture industry, Rambeau has a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame at 6336 Hollywood Blvd.


According to author and New York Daily Mirror theatre critic Bernard Sobel, the Reuben sandwich was invented for Marjorie Rambeau upon a visit to Reuben's Restaurant and Delicatessen in New York City.[5]

Private lifeEdit

Rambeau was descended from colonial immigrant Peter Gunnarsson Rambo,[6] who immigrated in the 1600s from Sweden to New Sweden and served as a justice of the Governor's Council. He was the longest living of the original settlers and became known as the "Father of New Sweden".[7]

Rambeau was married three times, she had no children:

  • The first was in 1913 to Canadian writer, actor, and director Willard Mack. They divorced in 1917.
  • She then married another actor, Hugh Dillman McGaughey, in 1919. They divorced in 1923. Dillman later married Anna Thompson Dodge, widow of automobile magnate Horace Elgin Dodge, and one of the wealthiest women in the world.
  • Rambeau's last marriage was to Francis Asbury Gudger in 1931, with whom she remained until his death in 1967. Gudger was from Asheville, North Carolina. In the winters they often stayed there, and in the summer they lived in Sebring, Florida. His previous wife was killed in an automobile accident in Tampa two years before, but Rambeau and Gudger had been sweethearts years before when the former was the "toast of Broadway".[8]


She died at her home in Palm Springs, California and was buried at the Desert Memorial Park in Cathedral City, California.[9][10][11]


The Debt (1917)
with George "Gabby" Hayes in In Old Oklahoma, 1943.



See alsoEdit


  1. ^ Marjorie Rambeau – North American Theatre Online
  2. ^ Great Stars of the American Stage by Daniel Blum Profile #62 c. 1952 (this second edition c. 1954)
  3. ^ Great Stars of the American Stage by Daniel C. Blum "Profile #62", c. 1952 (2nd edition c. 1954), no page numbers, pages are referred to as Profiles
  4. ^ Parker, Dorothy. "To Marjorie Rambeau." Life. December 8, 1921. p. 7; Silverstein, Stuart Y., ed. (1996). Not Much Fun: The Lost Poems of Dorothy Parker. New York: Scribner. p. 101. ISBN 0-7432-1148-0. 
  5. ^ Sobel, Bernard (1953). "Broadway Heartbeat: Memoirs of a Press Agent". New York City: Hermitage House: 233. OCLC 1514676. 
  6. ^ [1]
  7. ^ "The Rambo Family Tree: Descendants of Peter Gunnarson Rambo 1611-1986", Beverly Nelson Rambo, p. 690
  8. ^ St. Petersburg Times, November 28, 1932
  9. ^ "Marjorie Rambeau, 'Grande Dame,' Dies". The Milwaukee Journal. AP. July 8, 1970. Retrieved September 30, 2012. 
  10. ^ Brooks, Patricia; Brooks, Jonathan (2006). "Chapter 8: East L.A. and the Desert". Laid to Rest in California: a guide to the cemeteries and grave sites of the rich and famous. Guilford, CT: Globe Pequot Press. p. 238. ISBN 978-0762741014. OCLC 70284362. 
  11. ^ Marjorie Rambeau at Find a Grave

External linksEdit