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Classically Speaking:
Promoting Classic Movies in a Jaded World!

Thursday, June 30, 2011


Martha RayeMy earliest recollections of MARTHA RAYE (1916–1994), born Margaret Teresa Yvonne Reed was seeing her in Polident Denture Cleanser commercials and on several television shows. Her endorsement line for Polident was, "Take it from a big mouth." These commercials ran during my teen years in the 1970s. Of those shows I watched on a regular basis, Martha Raye played Carrie Sharples in twelve episodes of "Alice" starring Linda Lavin, two episodes of "The Love Boat", seven episodes of McMillan and Wife, eight episodes of "The Red Skelton Hour", eight episodes of "The Carol Burnett Show", eight episodes of the game show "Hollywood Squares", and was a member of the regular cast of two children's programs, "Pufnstuf" and "The Bugaloos". Before my time in 1955, Martha Raye had her very own comedy variety show called "The Martha Raye Show" where she played several characters. I would have liked to have seen that. After knowing her through television, I found I enjoyed her work even more in classic comedy films. Martha Raye was always a delight and someone that always struck me funny. I continue to enjoy her wisecracking remarks, musical numbers, and great facial expressions. She was a master of the double take. I hope that you'll find her as much fun as I have all these years when you check out her films now.

Keep 'Em FlyingHaven't you seen Keep 'Em Flying (1941)? This is one of my favorite Abbott and Costello films. Martha Raye plays identical twins Gloria and Barbara Phelps. She's hilarious. I love her musical number, "Pig Foot Pete". She's a marvelous entertainer. You can see why was a USO (United Service Organization) favorite and earned the prestigious Jean Hersholt Humanitarian Award in 1969.

Watch this and then see these other four films.

Monsieur Verdoux (1947) Alongside Charles Chaplin, Martha Raye plays Annabella Bonheur about halfway into the film and well worth the wait. Her scenes are the funniest bits in the whole movie written by Charles Chaplin.
Rhythm on the Range (1936) She plays Emma Mazda in this Bing Crosby film. See her sing and dance, "Mr. Paganini (You'll Have to Swing It)".
Billy Rose's Jumbo (1962) I watched this film initially to see Doris Day, but enjoyed seeing Martha Raye as well. She plays Lulu in this comedy romance.
Four Jills in a Jeep (1944) This film is worth seeing to see Martha Raye play herself in reenactments of actual USO experiences of entertaining troops overseas. Kay Francis and Carole Landis also star.

*Contributed by: "Elizabeth Van Cleve" Date: Thurs, Jun 30 2011 / 13:16:55 PST

Academy Awards®
© A.M.P.A.S.®
1969 Jean Hersholt Humanitarian Award