Yes, fame ran in the family. She is famous for saying to her very successful son, “you may be a star, I’m a legend.”
Mom, of course, is Mary Martin. Son is Larry Hagman, famously remembered as “JR Ewing” on the longrunning (1978 until 1991) CBS prime time soap opera, Dallas. (Who shot JR?, became a national catchphrase for the hugely popular program.)
The story goes that Martin herself was offered a role in Dallas — replacing actress Barbara Bel Geddes as “JR’s” mother. She would have been portraying the mother of her own son. The idea wasn’t congenial to Martin, and she turned the offer down.
In any case, fame did run her Martin’s family. (There’s a cheerful mother-son combo pictured above.) Hagman was the product of Martin’s first of two marriages, to Benjamin Hagman, a union that lasted seven years until 1936. Martin’s second marriage was to her agent Richard Halliday, which lasted until his death in 1973.
Ok, onward to the answers to our Mary Martin Quiz.
1) Question: Although Mary Martin was a sensation on Broadway in South Pacific, she did NOT recreate her starring role in the subsequent movie version. Who did? a) Ethel Merman; b) Jane Powell ; c) Mitzi Gaynor; or d) Debbie Reynolds.
1) Answer: c) Mitzi Gaynor.
2) Question: Martin did get top billing while in Hollywood, and which of the following were her costars? a) Don Ameche; b) Fred Allen; c) Brian Donlevy; or d) Akim Tamiroff.
2) Answer: All of them were. Ameche in Kiss The Boys Goodbye. Allen in Love Thy Neighbor. Donlevy in Birth of the Blues. Tamiroff in New York Town.
3) Question: Actress Janet Gaynor and Martin, personal friends, shared a common experience offscreen that changed their lives. What was it? a) A near-fatal car crash; b) Bankruptcy; c) Working with director Otto Preminger; or d) Alcohol rehab.
3) Answer: In 1982, Gaynor and Martin with their respective spouses were riding in a taxicab in San Francisco when their vehicle was rammed by another car driven by an inebriated driver who ran a red light. Martin and Gaynor sustained serious injuries and Mary’s manager, Ben Washer, was killed. Gaynor died of complications of her injuries two years later.
4) Question: Martin’s early life was very difficult as her family was hardscrabble poor in rural Texas. a) True; or b) False.
4) Answer: b) False. Martin was raised in Weatherford, Texas, in a solidly middle class family — father was a lawyer, mom was a violin instructor. Her childhood, she said, was a happy one. “It was all joy,” she recalled.
5) Question: Which of the following titles did Martin NOT appear in? a) 1943’s True To Life; b) 1941’s New York Town; c) 1940’s Love Thy Neighbor; or d) 1948’s Easter Parade.
5) Answer: 1948’s Easter Parade, which starred Fred Astaire and Judy Garland.