Marian Driscoll Jordan
|Marian Driscoll Jordan|
Jordan with her husband Jim Jordan in the roles of Fibber McGee and Molly McGee, 1937.
|Born||Marian Irene Driscoll
April 15, 1898
Peoria, Illinois, U.S.
|Died||April 7, 1961
Encino, California, U.S.
|Resting place||Holy Cross Cemetery
Culver City, California
|Occupation||Actress, radio personality|
|Notable work||Fibber McGee and Molly|
(m. 1918; her death 1961)
|Children||Kathryn Therese Jordan
James Carroll "Jim" Jordan
Marian Irene Driscoll Jordan (April 15, 1898 – April 7, 1961) was an American actress and radio personality. She was most remembered for portraying the role of Molly McGee, the patient, common sense, honey-natured wife of Fibber McGee on the NBC radio series Fibber McGee and Molly from 1935–1959. She starred on this series opposite her real-life husband Jim Jordan.
Early life and marriage
Jordan was born Marian Irene Driscoll on April 15, 1898 in Peoria, Illinois. She was the twelfth of thirteen children born unto parents Daniel P. Driscoll, (January 10, 1858 – March 25, 1916) and Anna Driscoll (née Carroll), (February 28, 1858 – April 28, 1928). Driscoll's paternal great-grandfather, Michael Driscoll, Sr. (1793–1849), immigrated with his wife and children from his hometown of Baltimore, County Cork, Ireland in 1836 to the Boston area and then to Bureau County, Illinois in 1848.
As a teenager and young adult, Driscoll gave music lessons and sang in choir at the church of which she attended. While at choir practice one day, she met a member of the choir named James Edward "Jim" Jordan. The two wed on August 31, 1918. They had two children together; a son and a daughter. The two would endure a long career in showbiz together.
The two earned very little income. Marian settled on becoming a piano teacher and Jim became a mailman. Jim enlisted in the military and was eventually drafted and stationed in France in 1918 during the first world war. Jim contracted a case of influenza during the 1918 flu pandemic but survived. After the war ended, Jim stayed in Europe to do Vaudeville performances for wounded soldiers.
Early radio career
Jordan first came unto the radio scene with her husband Jim in 1924 after a bet that Jim made with his brother. The couple's performance was a success. The couple began performing at WIBO, a radio station in Chicago where they earned $10 a week.
In 1927, Jordan and Jim debuted their second radio show. The series was entitled The Smith Family and debuted on WENR radio in Chicago. The show was a great boost to Marian and Jim's career. The radio series ended around 1930.
Collaboration with Don Quinn and Smackout
In 1931, while in Chicago, the Jordans met cartoonist Don Quinn. The three of them created the radio sitcom Smackout, (also known as The Smack-outs). The series starred Jordan as a gossipy green-grocer. Jim played the manager of the grocery store. Jordan was memorably known by her catchphrase on the program which was that "he, (referring to Jim's character), was smack out of everything 'cept hot air."
The show, for which Quinn also served as head writer for the series, was the Jordans' first major hit after going national in 1933. It was also one of the earliest forms of the sitcom genre.
Fibber McGee years
On April 16, 1935, under the creation of Jordan and her husband Jim and Quinn, Fibber McGee and Molly premiered on the NBC Blue Network Chicago radio affiliate WMAQ. The series became a big hit and also the birth of the sitcom format.
Jordan played the role of Molly McGee, the patient and intelligent wife who sometimes has to get Fibber out of jams that he gets himself into. Jordan played this role opposite her husband Jim who played Fibber.
But in 1938, the show and Jordan would both suffer major changes. Tragedy overtook Marian, as she had some terrible drinking problems. She entered a rehabilitation center in suburban Chicago and tried to get her life straightened out. This was thought to have been a good time as the Jordan children were in high school and college. Molly was written out of the script. The program was renamed Fibber McGee and Company. Most people who knew the private struggles that Marian faced didn't believe she would ever return, especially after the show moved from Chicago to Los Angeles in early 1939. However, Marian astonished everyone by returning to the show, travelling alone from Joliet, Illinois to Pasadena, California in March 1939. Her personality had returned, with some listeners considering her better than before, and her strength was bolstered by her freedom from alcohol and her refusal to permit references to it on the air.
The show managed to receive high ratings, starting with season three in 1938 until the end of its long run. It also gave birth of the spin-off when, in 1941, the recurring Fibber McGee character, antagonist Throckmorton P. Gildersleeve, (played by Harold Peary), received his own radio program entitled The Great Gildersleeve. The radio and eventual television series Beulah was also a spin-off of Fibber McGee which premiered in 1945. Beulah was the McGees' maid on the series.
Jordan's health began to deteriorate as the 1950s rolled around, (see below). This was the beginning of the end for both the show and Jordan. The program officially ended around 1956 but Jordan and Jim continued to portray their roles as Fibber McGee and Molly McGee in shorts on the NBC radio program Monitor until October 2, 1959, when her poor health prompted the end of the series. By the time the series was adapted for television, she was far too ill to reprise her role, and Cathy Lewis took her place; Lewis's darker take on the character was a factor in the television series' failure after a half-season.
In the 1920s, Jordan did a radio show in Chicago entitled Luke and Mirandy. She played the role of Mirandy alongside her husband Jim as the title role of Luke. It was a farm-report program in which Jim played a farmer who was given to tall tales and face-saving lies for comic effect.
Jordan also appeared in six movies based on the Fibber McGee series where she played her role as Molly.
Marian married Jim Jordan on August 31, 1918 in Peoria. They were married for almost 43 years until her death on April 7, 1961. They had two children: Kathryn Therese Jordan, (1920–2007) and James Carroll "Jim" Jordan, (1923–December 23, 1998). She was a devout Roman Catholic for all of her life.
Illness and death
The first "down roll spiral" of Marian's health occurred in 1938 during the run of Fibber McGee and Molly. She suffered a battle with alcoholism. She entered a rehabilitation center and was back on her feet and back on the radio in April, 1939.
In 1953, Jordan's health became progressively worse. She suddenly became very exhausted and battling with fatigue. The doctor suggested she take a long rest. She said no. She wanted to keep performing. So the Fibber McGee and Molly program began being recorded from the Jordan house in Encino. The music was canned (meaning recorded) and the commercials were no longer part of the show. But her failing health eventually caused the end of the daily show, (even though she still continued to play the role in five-minute shorts on Monitor until 1959).
In 1958, she got worse and worse and, eventually, test were conducted and she was found to have an inoperable form of cancer. Her illness forced the part of Molly McGee to be recast (with Cathy Lewis taking the role) when the show moved to television in fall 1959. (The role of Fibber was also recast in that series.)
Jordan died at her home in Encino on April 7, 1961 of cancer. Her husband Jim remarried in 1962 to a woman named Gretchen Stewart. The two were married until Jim's death on April 1, 1988. Jim and Marian are buried next to each other at the Holy Cross Cemetery in Culver City, California. They are buried next to actress Sharon Tate.
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