Marilyn Harris (actress)
July 17, 1924|
San Fernando, California, U.S.
|Died||December 1, 1999
Los Angeles, California, U.S.
Cause of death
|Cancer and heart failure|
|Known for||"Little Maria" in Frankenstein|
|Spouse(s)||Wally Watkins (m. 1944–81)
Marilyn Harris (July 17, 1924 – December 1, 1999) was an American child actress who appeared in several Hollywood productions in the 1930s and 1940s. She is best remembered for her role as "Little Maria" in the 1931 horror film Frankenstein.
Early life and career
Harris was born in San Fernando, California and placed in a Los Angeles orphanage shortly after her birth. She was adopted by an area couple when she was a month old. Shortly after her adoption, she appeared in a Rin Tin Tin film. In her later years, Harris revealed that her adoptive mother forced her to pursue a screen career because of her own failed attempts to become an actress. Harris also claimed that her mother was physically and emotionally abusive.
In 1931, Harris won the role of "Little Maria" in the horror film Frankenstein. In arguably the film's most memorable scene, Maria meets the fugitive monster (played by Boris Karloff) beside a lakeside and charms the monster with her innocence, humanity and friendship, something which he had not experienced with previously hostile, mistrusting adults. A children's game is however tragically misinterpreted by the monster, and he ends up throwing Little Maria into the lake, unintentionally drowning her and turning the surrounding village's population into a lynch mob, baying for revenge after the child's body is found. The shot of Maria being thrown into the water was cut from original prints and only restored in the 1980s.
After appearing in Frankenstein, Harris continued her career in small roles in films. She left acting at the age of 19 shortly after marrying Wally Watkins, a bouncer she met while working as a cashier at the Hollywood Palladium. The couple had a son the following year. After Harris' husband died in 1981, she remarried. Harris' second husband, Carl, died in 1988.
|1930||The Big Trail||Pioneer Girl||Uncredited|
|1931||Over the Hill||Susan Shelby in Prologue|
|1932||Destry Rides Again||Schoolgirl||Uncredited
Alternative title: Justice Rides Again
|1932||Wild Girl||Anna May||Uncredited|
|1932||6 Hours to Live||Flower Girl||Uncredited|
|1933||Tugboat Annie||Pat Severn, as a Child||Uncredited|
|1934||A Wicked Woman||Rosanne as a Girl|
|1935||The Bride of Frankenstein||Girl||Uncredited|
|1936||Show Boat||Little Girl||Uncredited|
|1937||The Road Back||Maria - Ernst's Sister|
|1943||Henry Aldrich Gets Glamour||Gwendolyn||Uncredited|
|1944||Standing Room Only||Secretary||Uncredited|
|1944||Henry Aldrich's Little Secret||Uncredited|
- Mank, Gregory W. (1999). Women In Horror Films, 1930s. McFarland & Company. p. 75. ISBN 0-786-40553-8.
- Parla, Paul; Charles P. Mitchell (2000). "Marilyn Harris: Flower Girl from Frankenstein". Screen Sirens Scream! Interviews with 20 Actresses from Science Fiction, Horror, Film Noir and Mystery Movies, 1930s to 1960s. Jefferson, N.C. and London: McFarland. pp. 116–117. ISBN 0-7864-0701-8.
- film script
- Mank 1999 p.80