Martha Raye


Martha Raye

 Martha Raye was born Margaret Teresa Yvonne Reed on August 27, 1916, in Butte, Montana. Her parents were vaudeville entertainers and she started performing with them when she was a child. By the early 1930s she was working as an orchestra singer and appearing in short films. Paramount offered her a contract in 1936 and cast her in the musical Rhythm On The Range. She quickly became a popular comedic actress and was nicknamed "The Big Mouth". In 1937 she married make-up artist Bud Westmore. They divorced the following year and she married singer David Rose. After he left her for Judy Garland Martha married Neal Lange. She costarred with Bob Hope in Give Me A Sailor and with Abbott and Costello in Keep 'Em Flying. During World War 2 she traveled all over the world entertaining soldiers with actresses Carole Landis, Mitzi Mayfair, and Kay Francis. The four women starred in the film Four Jills In A Jeep based on their overseas tour. Martha loved performing for the troops and she would continue to do it for the rest of her life. She divorced Neal in 1944 and married actor Nick Condo. They had a daughter named Melodye and stayed together for nine years. Martha was also bisexual and enjoyed affairs with many women including Joan Crawford. In 1953 Martha married Edward T. Begley.

Martha RayeMartha Raye

By this time she was mainly working on television. She hosted "Four Star Revue" and starred in "The Martha Raye Show" for two seasons. Her marriage to Edward didn't last and she married Robert O'Shea in 1956. Sadly this marriage would also end just four years later. Depressed over her failed marriages she attempted suicide by taking an overdose of pills. During the Korean and Vietnam wars Martha entertained the troops and performed in countless USO shows. She was even awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom for service to her country. Martha continued to make guest appearances on TV and starred in commercials for Polident. In 1991 she shocked her fans by marrying her seventh husband Mark Harris, a man who was openly bi-sexual and thirty-three years young than her. In her final years Martha suffered from Alzheimer's disease and lost both of her legs to poor circulation. She died from pneumonia on October 19, 1994. Martha is buried at Fort Bragg in Cumberland County, North Carolina. She left her entire estate to her husband Mark and gave nothing to her estranged daughter.

Martha RayeMartha Raye