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November 30, 2021

40 Lovely Photos of Martha Raye in the 1930s and ’40s

Born 1916 as Margy Reed in Butte, Montana, American comic actress and singer Martha Raye made her first film appearance in 1934 in a band short titled A Nite in the Nite Club. Her first feature film was Rhythm on the Range with crooner Bing Crosby. She made her Broadway debut in the Harry Akst musical Calling All Stars in 1934.


Raye was known for the size of her mouth, which was large in proportion to her face, earning her the nickname The Big Mouth. Her large mouth would relegate her motion picture work to supporting comic parts, and was often made up so it appeared even larger. In the Disney cartoon Mother Goose Goes Hollywood, she is caricatured while dancing alongside Joe E. Brown, another actor known for a big mouth. In the Warner Bros. cartoon The Woods Are Full of Cuckoos (1937), she was caricatured as a jazzy scat-singing donkey named ‘Moutha Bray’.

Raye was honored in 1969 at the Academy Awards as the Jean Hersholt Humanitarian Award recipient for her volunteer efforts and services to the troops. Her last film appearance was as an incontinent airline passenger in the disaster film The Concorde ... Airport ’79 (1979).

Raye’s personal life was complex and emotionally tumultuous. She was married seven times. Her final years were plagued by ill health. She died at age 78 of pneumonia in 1994. Raye has two stars on the Hollywood Walk of Fame—one for motion pictures at 6251 Hollywood Boulevard and the other for television at 6547 Hollywood Blvd.

Take a look at these vintage photos to see portrait of a young Martha Raye in the 1930s and 1940s.












































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