Marilyn Maxwell (August 3, 1921 – March 20, 1972), born Marvel Marilyn Maxwell, was an American actress and entertainer. A sex symbol of the 1940s and 1950s, she appeared in several radio programs and films as a curvaceous, platinum-haired, sparkling-eyed leading lady and entertained the troops during World War II and the Korean War on USO tours with Bob Hope. She was often called "the other Marilyn", and like Marilyn Monroe, Marilyn Maxwell had an equally short and tragic life.
Maxwell was born Marvel Marilyn Maxwell on August 3, 1921. Her parents tried to get her in show business at a young age, and she was trained as a dancer as early as age 3. Miss Maxwell's show business career began when she was a child under the tutelage of her piano-teacher mother, Mrs. Harry E. Maxwell of Clarinda. After leaving Clarinda when Marilyn was five, Mrs. Maxwell toured the country as an accompanist. Harry Maxwell died in 1950 at Tabor, where he farmed. Mrs. Maxwell died in 1951. Miss Maxwell missed the funerals of both her parents because she was on USO tours for American servicemen around the world.
Maxwell started her professional entertaining career as a radio singer while still a teenager before signing with MGM in 1942 as a contract player. The head of MGM, Louis B. Mayer, insisted she change the "Marvel" part of her real name. She dropped her first name and kept the middle. During the 1940s, she also appeared with Bing Crosby on his "Kraft Music Hall" radio program. Maxwell never made it really big in Hollywood but some of her film roles included Lost in a Harem (1944), Champion (1949), The Lemon Drop Kid (1951), and Rock-A-Bye Baby (1958). The Christmas carol classic "Silver Bells" made its debut in The Lemon Drop Kid, sung by Maxwell and Hope.
Here's "Tess's Torch Song" from above album.
On television, Maxwell appeared twice as a singer in the second season (1955–1956) of NBC's The Jimmy Durante Show. On May 16, 1957, she guest starred on NBC's The Ford Show, Starring Tennessee Ernie Ford. In the 1961-1962 television season, Maxwell played Grace Sherwood, owner of the diner on ABC's 26-episode Bus Stop, a drama about travellers passing through the fictitious town of Sunrise, Colorado.
She married MGM actor John Conte in 1944 in The Little Church Around the Corner in New York City; they divorced two years later. Her second marriage to restaurateur Anders McIntyre lasted one year. Her third marriage to writer/producer Jerry Davis produced a son, Matthew who was born on April 26, 1956. They divorced after six years of marriage.
According to Arthur Marx's Bob Hope biography "The Secret Life of Bob Hope," Marilyn Maxwell had a long term affair with
|Marilyn and Bob Hope|
Despite finding love in all the wrong places, Maxwell was widely loved among her friends. A close friend of Rock Hudson, she helped closet his homosexuality by making frequent public appearances with him and teasing reporters about how their relationship was "only a friendship."
By the 1960s, alcohol had taken its toll on Maxwell's career and looks. At her lowest point in 1967 she was discovered to be performing in a burlesque show as a stripper in Queens, New York. On March 20, 1972, Maxwell's 15-year-old son arrived home from school and found her dead at the age of fifty of an apparent heart attack, after she had been treated for hypertension and pulmonary disease. Bob Hope, Bing Crosby, Frank Sinatra, and Jack Benny were honorary pallbearers at her funeral. Hope gave a memorable eulogy, and Rock Hudson looked after her son during the funeral and years afterward.
(Info mainly bio from David Lobosco @ greatentertainersarchives.blogspot)