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Trinidad, West Indies
Place of Death
Palm Desert, California
Cause of Death
Claim to Fame
Svengali, WAMPAS Baby Star of 1931
Profile Bio Text
One of the early sound era`s most attractive young leading ladies, doll-faced Marian Marsh enjoyed a short yet significant film career as the star of several memorable 1930s melodramas opposite some of the cinema`s best, most charismatic lead actors. Her youthful, wide-eyed innocence combined with an innate delicacy to make a storybook heroine who was the perfect counterbalance to the licentious characters who often menaced her on film. So successful was she as a damsel in distress that she quickly became typecast, which impeded her development as an actress and helped bring her film career to a premature end.
The youngest of four children of a German chocolate manufacturer and his British wife, the future star was born Violet Ethelred Krauth on October 17, 1913, on the island of Trinidad, British West Indies. When World War I ruined his business, Mr. Krauth moved the family to Massachusetts, where his children developed an appreciation for the arts and theater.
During the mid 1920s, Violet`s older sister Jean became a student at Paramount`s Astoria studio and later a Paramount contract player. When Jean signed a contract with FBO Pictures in Hollywood, the Krauth family moved to the West Coast, where Violet attended La Conte Junior High School and later Hollywood High. In 1928 Jean helped her strikingly attractive golden-haired sister secure a screen test with Pathe Studios, which promptly signed her but dropped her after a short film appearance. After another short pact with Samuel Goldwyn, Violet, now known as Marilyn Morgan, opted to study acting and voice with `Nance O`Neil`. In 1929 Warners signed the 16-year-old, who changed her name once again, this time to Marian Marsh.
Despite appearances in 30 short films starring James Gleason and a small part in Hell`s Angels (1930), Marian`s career seemed headed to oblivion when she won the role of her life in Svengali (1931), Warners` film remake of the 1895 British romantic play "Trilby", the tragic tale of an innocent milkmaid who becomes a great singing diva under the hypnotic tutelage of the malevolent Svengali (charismatically portrayed by John Barrymore). According to Miss Marsh, she was tested for the plum role several times before being selected by Barrymore, apparently because she resembled his wife, Dolores Costello.
The immense critical and financial success of the film combined with young Miss Marsh`s rave reviews to raise her Hollywood stock. Selected as one of the WAMPAS Baby Stars of 1931, she became one of filmdom`s top up-and-coming actresses. Hoping to exploit her growing popularity and capitalize on her ability to project warmth, sincerity and inner strength on screen, Warners cast her as virginal heroines in a series of films. Of special note were her compelling performances as the daughter of a woman driven to suicide by amoral newspaper editor Edward G. Robinson in Five Star Final (1931), a ballerina menaced by evil clubfooted puppeteer John Barrymore in The Mad Genius (1931), a sexy teen smitten with mature William Powell in The Road to Singapore (1931), and the fast talking Cinderella secretary of skirt-chasing financier Warren William in Beauty and the Boss (1932).
Just when it appeared as if Marian was on the verge of superstardom, she seemed to fall out of favor at Warners. After the critical failure of the much ballyhooed drama Under 18 (1931), a disappointed, exhausted Marian rebelled against the studio, which retaliated by not picking up her option. Her career never fully recovered.
After she departed Warners, the 19-year-old freelance actress compounded her problems and further diminished her reputation by accepting film work overseas and at minor studios. Although her performances in such films as The Sport Parade (1932), the British comedy Over the Garden Wall (1934) and A Girl of the Limberlost (1934) were admirable, low-budget production values and other assorted problems doomed the projects.
In 1935 Marian signed a two-year pact with Columbia Pictures and tried with some success to resurrect her foundering career. Of the eight Columbia pictures she made during the period 1935-36, four were memorable. She was excellent, if typecast, as a young girl mixed up with crooks and gangsters in the entertaining melodrama Counterfeit (1936), as the bespectacled daughter of a retailer in love with a shyster salesman in the charming B comedy Come Closer, Folks (1936), as an accursed young woman forced to marry murderer Boris Karloff in the fondly remembered suspense classic The Black Room (1935), and notably as the beautiful prostitute Sonya in Josef von Sternberg`s controversial film version of Fyodor Dostoyevsky`s timeless novel Crime and Punishment (1935/I) starring Peter Lorre. Her performance in the latter is without a doubt one of the best, if not the best, of her career.
When her Columbia contract expired in 1936, Marian once again squandered her momentum and talent by appearing in routine second f
Couple Profile Source
Hollywood High School, Hollywood, California
Full Name at Birth
Violet Ethelred Krauth
Josef Von Sternberg, Peter Lorre, Nance O'Neil
Has Detailed Data (New)
Marian Marsh (October 17, 1913 – November 9, 2006) was an American film actress, and later, environmentalist.
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