|Born||Marjorie Ann Guthrie
July 22, 1904
Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada
|Died||August 21, 1935
Hollywood, California, U.S.
|Spouse(s)||Edwin J. Tierney (1924-1935; her death)|
Marjorie White (July 22, 1904 – August 21, 1935) was a Canadian-born actress of stage and film.
Born Marjorie Ann Guthrie in Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada, she was the first-born child of a grain merchant born in Simcoe, Ontario. She entered show business at the age of eight or 10, as one of the Winnipeg Kiddies, a troupe of child performers who toured Canada and the United States. She danced and sang with the troupe until too old to continue, then at 17 in December 1921 went to San Francisco and joined Thelma Wolpa in amateur vaudeville comedy.
Teamed for a time with Thelma Wolpa as Wolpa and Guthrie, Little Bits of Everything, the duo act became 'The White Sisters' in New York City. Both women kept the name White after the act broke up. Thelma White later gained immortality as the blowsy Mae in Reefer Madness. According to the New York Times (August 11, 1924), Marjorie White married Eddie Tierney on August 10, 1924 in Greenwich, Connecticut. She appeared on Broadway in several musicals between 1926 and 1929, when she and her husband moved to Hollywood. In accordance with studio tradition, four years were knocked off her birth date and she was supposedly born in 1908. Early biographies of James Cagney, the Marx Brothers and Bing Crosby typically gave birthdates occurring five years after the actual event.
She began getting parts in pictures, starting with leading roles in Happy Days (1929) and Sunny Side Up (1929). The same year she was required by executives of the Fox Film studio to lose four pounds in order to secure a role in The New Orleans Frolic. White was diminutive to begin with, weighing only 103 pounds and standing 4'10" tall. The part called for a woman who weighed less than 100 pounds. She returned to Broadway for a musical, Hot-Cha, in 1932, but came back to Hollywood thereafter.
She will also be recognized by fans of "Charlie Chan" films in a prominent, if brief, uncredited role in the 1931 Fox film "The Black Camel" starring Warner Oland and featuring Bela Lugosi and Robert Young in what may be his first leading role. Marjorie appears as a forward and rather sarcastic young woman among the usual group of suspects held waiting upon the conclusion of Charlie's investigation. She is noticeably somewhat... 'full figured' in this role bordering on being overweight for young film actresses of this era.
In 1933, White had a featured role in the insanely funny Joseph Mankiewciz-scripted political satire "Diplomaniacs" starring the team of Wheeler and Woolsey. Marjorie is Dolores, a fem fatale custom-ordered by the film's villain (she arrives wrapped in plastic from a chute in the wall) to seduce Willy (Bert Wheeler) and steal secret plans from him. Wheeler and White's duet "Sing For Me" is performed while the tiny White physically assaults Wheeler because he is reluctant to sing to her in a terrific send-up of the typical boy-girl romantic song scenes of the era.
White is perhaps best remembered for her co-starring role in the first Three Stooges short made at Columbia Pictures, Woman Haters (1934), in which she played the new wife of Larry Fine, who he needs to keep secret from his fellow Woman-Haters Club members (who are both "pitching woo" at her behind Larry's back). The entire comedy short is done in rhyming verse(!). Woman Haters was her last film.
On August 20, 1935, White was a passenger in a car driven by Marlow M. Lovell on the Roosevelt Highway near the Bel Air Beach Club, in Santa Monica, California. It sideswiped the car of a couple who had been married only an hour before, and overturned. A coroner's jury decided that the reckless driving of Lovell was to blame for the accident. White was riding with Lovell in the open car because another member of the party, Gloria Gould, was without a wrap. Gould was following Lovell's car in another vehicle with White's husband. White was the only person seriously injured. She died of internal hemorrhaging the next day, August 21, 1935, at a Hollywood hospital.
She was buried at Hollywood Memorial Cemetery (now Hollywood Forever Cemetery). She was survived by her husband, her parents Robert and Nettie, and siblings Orville, Morley, Stewart, and Belva.
- Manitoba's Vital Statistics website, Birth Certificate registration #1904,006829
- Los Angeles Times, Small Actress Has To Reduce Further, October 4, 1929, Page A10
- Winnipeg Free Press, 22 August 1935
- Variety, 28 August 1935
- Los Angeles Times, Actress' Death In Crash Laid To Reckless Driving, August 24, 1935, Page A3