Marion Lorne

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Marion Lorne
Marion Lorne Sally 1957.JPG
Lorne in 1957
Born Marion Lorne MacDougall
August 12, 1883
West Pittston, Pennsylvania, U.S.
Died May 9, 1968 (aged 84)
New York, New York, U.S.
Resting place Ferncliff Cemetery, Greenburgh, New York, U.S.[1]
41°01′39″N 73°49′57″W / 41.02750°N 73.83250°W / 41.02750; -73.83250
Occupation Actress
Years active 1905–1968; her death
Spouse(s) Walter C. Hackett (m. 1911–1944; his death)
Lorne with Louise Drew in the play The Florist Shop (1909)

Marion Lorne (August 12, 1883 – May 9, 1968) was an American actress of stage, film, and television.

After a career in theatre in New York and London, Lorne made her first film in 1951, and for the remainder of her life, played small roles in films and television. Her recurring role, between 1964 and her death in 1968, as Aunt Clara in the comedy series, Bewitched (1964–1972) brought her widespread recognition, and for which she was posthumously awarded an Emmy Award for Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Comedy Series.

Early life and education[edit]

Lorne was born Marion Lorne MacDougall in West Pittston, Pennsylvania, a small mining town halfway between Wilkes-Barre and Scranton. She was the daughter of Dr. William Lorne MacDougall, MD, and his wife, Jane Louise (née Oliver), known as "Jennie". She was born in 1883 (although by the 1920s she had shaved five years off of her age). While her year of birth is listed as 1885 here, it was usually listed as 1888 when she was alive. However, the Social Security Death Index lists it as 1883. Her parents were Scottish and English immigrants. She had a younger brother, Lorne Taylor MacDougall (October 20, 1893–September 5, 1943).[2] She studied at the American Academy of Dramatic Arts in New York City.[2] The 1900 census, enumerated on June 1, 1900, gave her age as 16 and the month and year of her birth as August 1883.[3]


Lorne debuted on Broadway in 1905; she also acted in London theaters, enjoying a flourishing stage career on both sides of the Atlantic Ocean. In London she had her own theater, the Whitehall, where she had top billing in plays written by Walter Hackett, her husband.[2] None of her productions at the Whitehall had runs shorter than 125 nights.[2]

After appearing in a couple of Vitaphone shorts, including Success (1931) starring Jack Haley, she made her feature film debut in her late 60s in Strangers on a Train (1951), directed by Alfred Hitchcock. From 1952-55, she was seen as perpetually confused junior high school English teacher Mrs. Gurney on Mr. Peepers.[4] From 1957–58, she co-starred with Joan Caulfield in the NBC sitcom Sally in the role of an elderly widow who happens to be the co-owner of a department store.[5] Although afraid of live television, declaring "I'm a coward when it comes to a live [television] show",[6] she was persuaded to appear a few times to promote the film The Girl Rush with Rosalind Russell in the mid-1950s. Between 1958–64, she made regular appearances on The Garry Moore Show (1958–62).[citation needed]

Her last role, as Aunt Clara in Bewitched, brought Lorne her widest fame as a lovable, forgetful witch who is losing her powers due to old age and whose spells usually end in disaster. Aunt Clara is obsessed with doorknobs, often bringing her collection with her on visits. Lorne had an extensive collection of doorknobs in real life, some of which she used as props in the series.[7]


She appeared in twenty-seven episodes of Bewitched, and was not replaced after she died of a heart attack in her Manhattan apartment, just prior to the start of production of the show's fifth season, on May 9, 1968, aged 84.[8] She is buried at Ferncliff Cemetery in Greenburgh, New York.[1]


The producers of Bewitched recognized that Lorne's performance as Aunt Clara could not be replicated by another actress. Comedic actress Alice Ghostley was recruited to fill the gap as “Esmeralda”, a different type of befuddled witch with wobbly magic whose spells often went astray. Coincidentally, Lorne and Ghostley had appeared side-by-side as partygoers in the iconic comedy-drama film The Graduate, made the year before Lorne's death.[9] She received a posthumous Emmy Award for Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Comedy Series for her work on Bewitched. The statue was accepted by Bewitched star Elizabeth Montgomery.

Personal life[edit]

In 1911, she married playwright Walter C. Hackett. They were married until his death in 1944. The union was childless.

Filmography and television work[edit]

Year Title Genre Role Notes
1931 Success Short film Molly's mother
1951 Strangers on a Train psychological thriller Mrs. Anthony
July 3, 1952 to June 12, 1955 Mr. Peepers sitcom Mrs. Gurney television
1955 The Girl Rush musical comedy Aunt Clara
August 21, 1955 The Ed Sullivan Show variety Herself in "The Girl Rush Show"
September 17, 1955 Perry Como's Kraft Music Hall variety Herself
1956–57 The Steve Allen Show variety Herself
1957–58 Sally sitcom Myrtle Banford television, 26 episodes
1958 Suspicion mystery drama Mrs. Foster television, one episode
1958 DuPont Show of the Month anthology series Veta Louise Simmons television, episode (television adaptation of the comedy play Harvey (1944))
1958–1962 The Garry Moore Show variety show herself television
1959 (November 25, 1959) I've Got a Secret game show herself television
1964–1968 Bewitched sitcom Aunt Clara television, 28 episodes
1967 The Graduate comedy-drama Miss DeWitte

Theatre work[edit]

  • Dance Me a Song as Grandmother (January 20, 1950 – February 18, 1950)
  • Harvey as Veta Louise Simmons (November 1, 1944 – January 15, 1949)
  • Off With The Motley (1937-1938) [Whitehall Theatre, London]
  • London After Dark (1937) [Streatham Hill Theatre]
  • London After Dark (1937) [Apollo Theatre, London]
  • The Fugitives (1936) [Whitehall Theatre, London]
  • Espionage (1935-1936) [Apollo Theatre, London]
  • Afterwards (1934) [Whitehall Theatre, London]
  • The White Sisters (1933) [Whitehall Theatre, London]
  • The Gay Adventure (1932) [Whitehall Theatre, London]
  • Road House (1932) [Whitehall Theatre, London]
  • Take a Chance (1931) [Whitehall Theatre, London]
  • Captain Applejack (1931) [Whitehall Theatre, London]
  • It Pays to Advertise (1930-1931)
  • Hyde Park Corner (1930)
  • Freedom of the Seas (1929)
  • Regeneration (1928)
  • The Wicked Earl (1928) [His Majesty's Theater, London]
  • The Barton Mystery (1927)
  • 77 Park Lane (1927)
  • 77 Rue Chalgrin (1925)
  • Other Men's Wives (1922)
  • The Barton Mystery (October 13-30, 1917; 20 performances)
  • It Pays to Advertise (1915-1916)
  • Don't Weaken (January 1914)
  • The Little Minister as Lady Babbie (June 22, 1910 - 1910) [Hunter-Bradford Players at the Parsons Theater]
  • The Florist Shop as Angelica Perkins (August 9, 1909 - September 1909)
  • The Devil as Mimi (August 18, 1908 - November 1908)
  • Here Tonight (1908)
  • Mrs. Temple's Telegram (February 1, 1905 - March 27, 1905)

Awards and nominations[edit]

Year Result Award Category Series Reference
1954 nominated Emmy Award Best Series Supporting Actress Mr. Peepers [10]
1955 nominated Emmy Award Best Supporting Actress in a Regular Series Mr. Peepers [10]
1958 nominated Emmy Award Best Continuing Supporting Performance by an Actress in a Dramatic or Comedy Series Sally [10]
1967 nominated Emmy Award Outstanding Performance by an Actress in a Supporting Role in a Comedy Bewitched [10]
1968 won Emmy Award Outstanding Performance by an Actress in a Supporting Role in a Comedy Bewitched [10]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b "Marion Lorne" profile at Find a Grave; retrieved October 7, 2012.
  2. ^ a b c d The Magic of Marion Lorne. TV Guide, March 23-29 1968, pp 20-21.
  3. ^ 1900 census record for Marion Lorne MacDougall, although her middle initial appears as "M", not "L",; accessed September 22, 2015.
  4. ^ "Information Booth" (PDF). Radio-TV Mirror 41 (1): 12. December 1953. Retrieved 17 November 2014. 
  5. ^ "Sally (1957 TV series)". Classic TV Archives. Retrieved September 11, 2009. 
  6. ^ New York Times, September 26, 1958
  7. ^ "Aunt Clara's Doorknob Collection". Nick at Night Flashback. September 23, 2008. Retrieved July 16, 2009. 
  8. ^ "Heart Attack is Fatal to Marion Lorne". Gettysburg Times. May 13, 1968. Retrieved June 1, 2014. 
  9. ^ "When Esmeralda Sneezed". harpiesbizarre. October 1, 2007. Retrieved October 1, 2007. 
  10. ^ a b c d e Database (undated). "Marion Lorne". (database operated by Academy of Television Arts & Sciences). Retrieved October 7, 2012.

External links[edit]