Monday 20 August 2012

Guest Post: Let's Misbehave with Marjorie Beebe

The lovely Ian has done a piece for me on the brilliant, but unknown comedienne Marjorie Beebe. Hopefully he will be doing some more articles for me in the future and I encourage you to check out some of Miss Beebe's movies and shorts available on Youtube, I will put a few links at the end.

MARJORIE BEEBE was a rollicking slapstick comedienne, as expert at executing a pratfall as she was at delivering a wisecrack. Her all too short film career can be divided into three sections. There was the period at Fox in the late 1920s, followed by her involvement with Mack Sennett and his new two reel talkie shorts in the early 1930s, and then finally her return to features, an unsatisfactory ragbag of late 1930s support roles before she retired permanently from the movies. It is her career with Mack Sennett, which immediately followed her big Fox triumph with The Farmer’s Daughter (Arthur Rosson 1928), which is sadly lost, a career which includes a few shorts for other studios when he leased out her services, that fits so happily into the Precode timespan of this site. Under the umbrella of slapstick comedy the roguish Beebe perpetrated all manner of mischief.

Beebe as the Cowcatcher's Daughter laughing as her father tries to scold her
Marjorie Beebe did not do decorous nor demure and she was as much a handful in real life as she was on screen. Mack Sennett struggled to control her. He knew how good she was so he put up with quite a lot from his party girl. By 1930 he was requiring her to sign a letter promising to keep off alcoholic liquor while filming. When that did not work he held back part of her salary until filming was complete. But on screen she could sizzle, and she shared the same sense of humor as her great movie mogul mentor. The papers carried rumors of an engagement which Sennett (not it would seem ever the marrying kind) had to deny though he graciously said it was the biggest compliment he had been paid in a long time. He was already on record saying she had the talent to become the best screen comedienne of all time.

She could be very sassy on screen and she took as good as she gave; she was tough and resourceful. She was the Cheeky Chappy turned female. In the one reel Hot News Margie (Alfred J. Goulding 1931) she plays the most brazen of newspaper girls seeking her scoop about an adulterous footballer no matter what. She breaks into the men’s locker room and also invades the pitch with a match in progress. In Racket Cheers (Mack Sennett 1930) she plays a booze guzzling, gun toting gangster’s moll and in Dance Hall Marge (Del Lord and Mack Sennett 1931) pushed boundaries further by playing a club hostess entertaining men for money. The film also includes a bravura chase scene that few comediennes other than the intrepid Beebe would even have attempted. In A Put-Up Job (Albert Ray 1931) she plays the young wife flirting with the builder. In Doubling in the Quickies (Babe Stafford 1932) she abandons her fiancé to chance her luck in Hollywood. Alongside these sassy broads she also played the disorderly daughter in a series of shorts with Andy Clyde as her confused and exasperated old father. In Campus Crushes (Mack Sennett 1930) she indulges in high jinks at college and for Cowcatcher’s Daughter (Babe Stafford 1931), a sort of remake of her Fox triumph, she goes completely wild, running away from college to a circus, training her horse to push her boring fiancé down the well, and indulging in nude midnight swims in a forest lake. Long suffering Pop Andy has to take his unruly daughter in hand.  

In a way both Cowcatcher and Doubling in the Quickies seem a touch biographical, tales of a country girl (Beebe was from Missouri) with a yen to perform. In both of them too, and in other titles, the fiancé was there to be pushed around while Beebe ogled more attractive men.
Miss Bebe as Hot News Margie getting an eyeful of nude male flesh in a football locker room

After Sennett went bust Beebe in real life went through two or three short-lived marriages which suggest that in her early twenties she had little patience with male frailty. One promised her the earth telling her he was a New York investment banker when in fact he was a penniless bum (this was the Depression) and in poor health. Marjorie went straight to the divorce courts complaining she had to sell her car for them to live on. He replied he only told the lies because he didn’t think she would be interested in him otherwise. How right he was! But she found some happiness in later life with a more settled marriage and there are still lateral descendants alive today- Beebe was an only child with no children of her own- who fondly recall their dear kind old Aunt Marge.
Ms Beebe as Dance Hall Marge drives a car underwater after a frenetic  chase scene

Youtube Links...

Instead of adding videos to this article, I will link to the Youtube site:


  1. I always enjoy learning more about "new to me" actress/actors. MARJORIE BEEBE, sounds like a very sassy person, full of fun. I will look for her films when they come on TCM. Thank you for the wonderful review.

  2. You should. She is a great comedian, it is a pity she wasnt given more feature films and more mainstream roles.

  3. As a stage parent, it is common to feel some hatred towards your stepkids. All things considered, if not for them, you'd have the ideal relationship, isn't that so? Dicey, however it regularly makes us feel no less than somewhat better. We should have a go at something somewhat more profitable at this point. Mack of early slapstick

  4. After publishing my research blog on Marjorie Beebe I was contacted by Ian. We are both working toward expanding the story on her. My blog: marjoriebeebe.wordpress.com/

    1. Ian and I have been working together more on Marjorie and the blog has now been re-written. marjoriebeebe.wordpress.com