Peter Marshall (entertainer)
Ralph Pierre LaCock
March 30, 1926
|Known for||Original host of Hollywood Squares (1966–1981)|
Nadene R. Teaford
(m. 1947; div. 1973)
(m. 1977; div. 1983)
|Children||4, including Pete LaCock|
|Relatives||Joanne Dru (sister)|
Ralph Pierre LaCock (born March 30, 1926), better known by his stage name Peter Marshall, is an American former game show host, television and radio personality, singer, and actor. He was the original host of The Hollywood Squares from 1966 to 1981 and has almost fifty television, movie, and Broadway credits.
Marshall was given his stage name by John Robert Powers. Powers had chosen the last name Marshall for his sister (who later chose to use Joanne Dru instead), and Peter adopted it early in his career and paired it with an anglicized version of his middle name.
Marshall was born Ralph Pierre LaCock on March 30, 1926, to Ralph and Jean LaCock, a show business family, in Huntington, West Virginia. Following his father's suicide when Marshall was ten, he moved to New York City to be with his mother, a costume designer. After he graduated from high school, he was drafted into the Army in 1944 and stationed in Italy. He was originally in the artillery, but was recruited to be a disc jockey at a radio station in Naples. He was discharged in 1946 with the rank of staff sergeant.
His elder sister Joan became the film and television actress known as Joanne Dru. She was best known for her roles in such films as Red River, She Wore a Yellow Ribbon, and All the King's Men.
In the 1950s, Marshall earned his living as part of a comedy act with Tommy Noonan, and they appeared in night clubs, on television variety shows, and in films including Starlift (1951), The Rookie (1959) and Swingin' Along (1962). (Noonan and Marshall were related by marriage; Noonan's half-brother John Ireland was married to Marshall's sister Joanne Dru.) Marshall appeared in the 1958 episode "The Big Hoax" of the syndicated television series Harbor Command. In 1963, he appeared as Lucy's brother-in-law, Hughie, in The Lucy Show episode "Lucy's Sister Pays A Visit".
The Hollywood Squares
Although Marshall occasionally worked in film and television, he could not find regular work in the industry until his friend Morey Amsterdam recommended him to fill in for Bert Parks (who emceed the pilot) as the host of the game show The Hollywood Squares in 1966. Though Marshall did not initially want the job, he took it in order to ensure that rival comic Dan Rowan would not get it. Marshall's grudge stemmed back to when he and Noonan had written material for Rowan and Martin, but Rowan had shown virtually no respect to Noonan when Noonan fell terminally ill in the mid-1960s (as opposed to Dick Martin, who was fully supportive of Noonan's fight). He expected to spend 13 weeks as host, then return to Broadway, but ultimately hosted for 15 years and more than 5,000 episodes.
The show had a long run on daytime network TV and in syndication, making Marshall as familiar to viewers as the celebrities who appeared on the show. The easygoing and unflappable Marshall was a perfect foil for the wicked wit of such panelists as Amsterdam and his Dick Van Dyke Show castmate Rose Marie, Paul Lynde, Jan Murray, and Wally Cox. The Hollywood Squares was canceled by the NBC network in 1980, but production continued in syndication into 1981.
After the completion of the final run of The Hollywood Squares in 1981, Marshall continued working in game shows and playing character roles. He appeared on the game shows Fantasy (1982) with cohost Leslie Uggams, All-Star Blitz (1985), Yahtzee (1988), the "East Hollywood Squares" skit on In Living Color (1994), and Reel to Reel (1998).
In 1989, Marshall hosted the unaired pilot for 3rd Degree! (a Burt & Bert Production in association with Kline & Friends). When the series was picked up for syndication, show producer Bert Convy decided to leave his position as the host of the syndicated edition of Win, Lose or Draw and take Marshall's place on 3rd Degree without informing Marshall. Marshall filed a lawsuit against Convy for the action, but later dropped it after Convy's diagnosis of terminal brain cancer was made public.
In 2002, he returned to the new version of The Hollywood Squares as a panelist during a Game Show Week hosted by Tom Bergeron. Marshall occupied the prestigious center square. For one day that week, Marshall took his old position at the podium to host while Bergeron was the center square.
Marshall hosted a popular mid-day radio show for more than 15 years on the Music of Your Life radio network.
Marshall, along with co-host, singer Debby Boone, are featured in a successful infomercial presented by Time Life, the Music of Your Life Collection. Featuring hit songs from the 1950s, 1960s and 1970s, the infomercial was re-released in 2016 after selling more than a million CDs a few years prior.
In 1982, he had a small role in the film adaptation of Annie as radio announcer Bert Healy.
In 2002, Marshall published a book about his experiences, Backstage With The Original Hollywood Square.
In 2009, he appeared on television promoting compact disc hits from the Big Band era, and also hosted a two-hour PBS special, The Big Band Years. In 2010, Marshall, along with Monty Hall and Wink Martindale, appeared with their wives on a special Game Show Legend version of The Newlywed Game. The special was hosted by Bob Eubanks; the Martindales won the game.
In 2014, Marshall returned to West Virginia to host four games of The West Virginia Squares as part of Charleston's FestivALL. The game, which featured questions about the state's history, included West Virginia notables such as Joyce Dewitt and Landon Murphy.
Marshall retired from the entertainment industry in 2021, following a bout with COVID-19.
In London's 1962 West End production, Marshall appeared in the stage musical Bye Bye Birdie, a satire on American popular culture in the 1950s inspired by singer Elvis Presley receiving a draft notice into the Army. Marshall played the lead character of Albert Peterson, who writes a song for the pop-singing sensation Conrad Birdie (played by Marty Wilde), opposite Chita Rivera. The production ran for 268 performances.
Marshall is married to his third wife, Laurie Stewart, and has four children and two stepchildren from his previous marriages. He has a home in Palm Desert, California. His son, Pete, is a former Major League Baseball player. The retired first baseman spent nine years playing for the Chicago Cubs and Kansas City Royals.
Diagnosed with COVID-19 in January 2021, and discharged from a hospital in February in what was considered a hospice situation, Marshall survived the disease at home with a new doctor and 24-hour nursing care.
Marshall's 68-year-old son, David LaCock, died in August 2021 from COVID, in Hawaii. In a memorial post to Twitter, Marshall urged everyone to get vaccinated.
Marshall won the Daytime Emmy Award for Outstanding Game Show Host four times. In 2006 he received the annual Bill Cullen Award for Lifetime Achievement, from the non-profit organization, Game Show Congress. On October 13, 2007, Marshall was one of the first inductees into the American TV Game Show Hall of Fame in Las Vegas.
|1953||The 49th Man||Leo Wayne|
|1959||The Rookie||MSgt. Pete Marshall|
|The Cavern||Lt. Peter Carter|
|1974||Happy Anniversary and Goodbye||Greg Carter||TV movie|
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- "Pete LaCock". Retrosheet.org. Retrieved 1 January 2018.
- Criscitiello, Alexa (March 26, 2021). "Veteran Entertainer Peter Marshall, Defies Odds and Beats Covid in Time to Celebrate 95th Birthday on March 30". BroadwayWorld. Retrieved August 7, 2021.
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