Born in Indiana on February 24, 1890, Marjorie Main's father was a minister who did not approve of dramatics as a form of entertainment. She briefly attended college in Indiana but left to attend drama school. Upon graduation, she taught dramatics for a year but eventually went into vaudeville in the 1910s. When she married Dr. Stanley Krebs, a minister, in 1921, she more or less gave up performing for several years. Krebs, who was about 25 years older than Main, retired to New York later in the 1920s; Main then resumed acting, this time on Broadway. Her film career began with small roles in the early 1930s. But with the death of her husband in 1935, Main threw herself into her work. She never remarried and had no children.

Marjorie Main

Universal still of Marjorie Main

Under contract with MGM, from 1936 through 1957 Main acted in more than 100 'A' and 'B' pictures, tackling comedy and drama with ease. She took on a variety of supporting roles in big-budget films, but she was a star attraction in B movies, such as the Ma and Pa Kettle series produced by Universal. Initially, Main refused to do Ma and Pa Kettle (1949) in part because of its low budget, but MGM forced her to make the film on loan-out to Universal.

the films of marjorie main

The Bugle Sounds (1941)

Wallace Beery and Marjorie Main

With frequent co-star Wallace Beery in The Bugle Sounds

Honky Tonk (1941)

Marjorie Main and Clark Gable

With Clark Gable in the MGM western Honky Tonk

A Woman's Face (1941) Available for download

Marjorie Main and Joan Crawford

With Joan Crawford in the campy MGM drama A Woman's Face

The Affairs of Martha (1942)

Spring Byington, Frances Drake, Marsha Hunt, Richard Carlson, and Marjorie Main

From the comedy The Affairs of Martha with Spring Byington, Frances Drake, Marsha Hunt, and Richard Carlson

Tish (1942) Available at

Aline MacMahon, Lee Bowman, Zasu Pitts, and Marjorie Main

With Aline MacMahon, Lee Bowman, and Zasu Pitts in the comedy Tish

Heaven Can Wait (1943) Available at

Louis Calhern, Spring Byington, Eugene Pallette, and Marjorie Main

Main looks glamourous in this scene from the romantic comedy Heaven Can Wait. Also pictured are Louis Calhern, Spring Byington, and Eugene Pallette

Gentle Annie (1944)

Marjorie Main, James Craig, and Donna ReedJames Craig, Donna Reed, Harry Morgan, Marjorie Main, and Paul Langton

From the MGM western Gentle Annie. LEFT: With James Craig and Donna Reed. RIGHT: With James Craig, Donna Reed, Harry Morgan, and Paul Langton

Rationing (1944)

Wallace Beery, Dorothy Morris, and Marjorie Main

Scene from the wartime comedy Rationing with Wallace Beery and Dorothy Morris

Undercurrent (1946) Available at

Edmund Gwenn, Marjorie Main, Katharine Hepburn, and Robert Taylor

From the film noir outing Undercurrent, with Edmund Gwenn, Katharine Hepburn, and Robert Taylor

The Wistful Widow of Wagon Gap (1947) Available at

Marjorie Main and George Cleveland

From the Abbott and Costello vehicle The Wistful Widow of Wagon Gap with George Cleveland

Feudin', Fussin' and A-Fightin' (1948) Available at

Joe Besser, Marjorie Main, and Percy Kilbride

With Joe Besser and Percy Kilbride in the Universal comedy Feudin', Fussin' and A-Fightin'

Ma and Pa Kettle at the Fair (1952) Available at

Marjorie MainJames Best, Lori Nelson, and Marjorie Main

LEFT: Main in Universal's Ma and Pa Kettle at the Fair. RIGHT: With James Best and Lori Nelson

Ma and Pa Kettle at Home (1954) Available at

Marjorie MainPercy Kilbride and Marjorie MainMarjorie MainPercy Kilbride, Marjorie Main, and Brett HalseyMarjorie Main and Alan Mowbray

LEFT, CENTER A and B: Promotional photos from Ma and Pa Kettle at Home. CENTER C: With Percy Kilbride as Pa Kettle and Brett Halsey as their son Elwin. RIGHT: With Alan Mowbray

later years

Throughout the 1940s, Main proved to be one of the busiest actresses in Hollywood. Her role as Ma Kettle in the hit Universal comedy The Egg and I (1947; with Fred MacMurray and Claudette Colbert) shaped the remainder of her career. Universal executives decided to build a low-budget series around the Kettle family characters, making eight films between 1949 and 1957. The Ma and Pa Kettle series proved to be Main's swansong, however. With the release of The Kettles on Old MacDonald's Farm in 1957, Marjorie Main, then 67 years old, retired from films, finally wrapping her career with a few television appearances in the late 1950s. She passed away on April 10, 1975, from cancer at the age of 85. Main left no immediate survivors.

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The Kettles on Old MacDonald's Farm (1957) with Gloria Talbott and John Smith
The Kettles in the Ozarks (1956) with Arthur Hunnicutt and Dave O'Brien
Friendly Persuasion (1956) with Gary Cooper, Dorothy McGuire, and Anthony Perkins
Ma and Pa Kettle at Waikiki (1955) with Lori Nelson, Percy Kilbride, and Russell Johnson
Ma and Pa Kettle at Home (1954) with Brett Halsey, Percy Kilbride, and Mary Wickes
The Long, Long Trailer (1954) with Lucille Ball and Desi Arnaz
Rose Marie (1954) with Ann Blyth, Howard Keel, and Fernando Lamas
Ricochet Romance (1954) with Chill Wills and Irene Ryan
Fast Company (1953) with Howard Keel and Polly Bergen
Ma and Pa Kettle on Vacation (1953) with Percy Kilbride and ray Collins
Ma and Pa Kettle at the Fair (1952) with Lori Nelson, Percy Kilbride, and James Best
The Belle of New York (1952) with Fred Astaire
Ma and Pa Kettle Back on the Farm (1951) with Percy Kilbride and Richard Long
It's a Big Country (1951) with Gary Cooper, Janet Leigh, and Nancy Davis
The Law and the Lady (1951) with Greer Garson and Fernando Lamas
Mr. Imperium (1951) with Lana Turner and Ezio Pinza
Mrs. O'Malley and Mr. Malone (1950) with James Whitmore and Phyllis Kirk
Summer Stock (1950) with Judy Garland, Gene Kelly, and Eddie Bracken
Ma and Pa Kettle Go to Town (1950) with Percy Kilbride, Richard Long, and Jim Backus
Ma and Pa Kettle (1949) with Percy Kilbride and Richard Long
Big Jack (1949) with Wallace Beery and Richard Conte
Feudin', Fussin' and A-Fightin' (1948) with Donald O'Connor, Percy Kilbride, and Penny Edwards
The Wistful Widow of Wagon Gap (1947) with Bud Abbott, Lou Costello, and Glenn Strange
The Egg and I (1947) with Fred MacMurray, Claudette Colbert, Percy Kilbride, Louise Allbritton, and Richard Long
The Show-Off (1946) with Red Skelton, Marilyn Maxwell, and Marshall Thompson
Bad Bascomb (1946) with Wallace Beery and Marshall Thompson
Undercurrent (1946) with Katharine Hepburn, Robert Taylor, and Robert Mitchum
The Harvey Girls (1946) with Judy Garland, John Hodiak, and Cyd Charisse
Murder, He Says (1945) with Fred MacMurray and Helen Walker
Gentle Annie (1944) with James Craig, Donna Reed, and Harry Morgan
Meet Me in St. Louis (1944) with Judy Garland, Mary Astor, and June Lockhart
Rationing (1944) with Wallace Beery
Johnny Come Lately (1943) with James Cagney, Hattie McDaniel, and Marjorie Lord
Heaven Can Wait (1943) with Gene Tierney and Don Ameche
Jackass Mail (1942) with Wallace Beery and J. Carrol Naish
Tennessee Johnson (1942) with Van Heflin
We Were Dancing (1942) with Norma Shearer
Tish (1942) with Zasu Pitts
The Affairs of Martha (1942) with Richard Carlson and Spring Byington
The Bugle Sounds (1941) with Wallace Beery, Donna Reed, William Lundigan, and Chill Wills
The Trial of Mary Dugan (1941) with Laraine Day, Robert Young, and Tom Conway
Honky Tonk (1941) with Clark Gable and Lana Turner
The Shepherd of the Hills (1941) with John Wayne and Ward Bond
A Woman's Face (1941) with Joan Crawford and Melvyn Douglas
Barnacle Bill (1941) with Wallace Beery
The Wild Man of Borneo (1941) with Frank Morgan, Bonita Granville, and Bille Burke
Wyoming (1940) with Wallace Beery and Ann Rutherford
The Captain Is a Lady (1940) with Charles Coburn, Virginia Grey, and Billie Burke
Susan and God (1940) with Joan Crawford, Fredric March, Rita Hayworth, and Bruce Cabot
Turnabout (1940) with Adolphe Menjou, Carole Landis, and Mary Astor
Dark Command (1940) with John Wayne and Walter Pidgeon
Women Without Names (1940) with Ellen Drew
I Take This Woman (1940) with Spencer Tracy, Hedy Lamarr, and Laraine Day
Two Thoroughbreds (1939) with Joan Leslie
Another Thin Man (1939) with William Powell, Myrna Loy, Tom Neal, Virginia Grey, and Nat Pendleton
The Women (1939) with Joan Crawford, Norma Shearer, Paulette Goddard, Rosalind Russell, Joan Fontaine, Virginia Grey, and Mary Beth Hughes
Angels Wash Their Faces (1939) with Ann Sheridan, Ronald Reagan, Leo Gorcey, and Huntz Hall
They Shall Have Music (1939) with Joel McCrea
Lucky Night (1939) with Myrna Loy and Robert Taylor
Too Hot to Handle (1938) with Clark Gable, Myrna Loy, and Walter Pidgeon
Girls' School (1938) with Anne Shirley, Ralph Bellamy, and Gloria Holden
There Goes My Heart (1938) with Fredric March and Patsy Kelly
Under the Big Top (1938) with Anne Nagel
Little Tough Guy (1938) with Huntz Hall
Prison Farm (1938) with Lloyd Nolan and John Howard
Romance of the Limberlost (1938)
Test Pilot (1938) with Clark Gable, Myrna Loy, Spencer Tracy, and Gloria Holden
Boy of the Streets (1938) with Jackie Cooper
The Shadow (1937) with Rita Hayworth
The Wrong Road (1937) with Lionel Atwill
The Man Who Cried Wolf (1937) with Lewis Stone
Dead End (1937) with Joel McCrea, Sylvia Sidney, Humphrey Bogart, Huntz Hall, and Leo Gorcey
Stella Dallas (1937) with Barbara Stanwyck and Anne Shirley
Love in a Bungalow (1937) with Nan Grey and Kent Taylor
Music in the Air (1934) with Gloria Swanson
Take a Chance (1933) with Buddy Rogers
Hot Saturday (1932) with Nancy Carroll, Cary Grant, and Randolph Scott
A House Divided (1931) with Walter Huston

marjorie main film now showing

Watch Marjorie Main in the 1937 Republic crime drama The Wrong Road

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