Mary Martin Biography

Actress, Film Actor/Film Actress, Singer, Television Actress, Film Actress, Theater Actress (1913–1990)
Mary Martin was a Tony Award-winning actress and singer famous for her roles in stage productions of Peter Pan, South Pacific and The Sound of Music.


Mary Martin was born on December 1, 1913 in Weatherford, Texas. She moved to New York City and won a small part in the musical Leave It to Me, becoming famous for her rendition of “My Heart Belongs to Daddy.” She starred in Broadway productions of South Pacific, Peter Pan and The Sound of Music, winning multiple Tony Awards. Her son was actor Larry Hagman, who was famous for portraying TV villain J.R. Ewing in Dallas. Martin has a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. She died in 1990.

Early Life

Actress, singer and legendary Broadway star Mary Martin was born on December 1, 1913 in Weatherford, Texas. Her father, Preston, was a lawyer and her mother, Juanita, was a violin teacher. She showed an early interest in music and mimicking popular stars of the time including Ruby Keeler, Fanny Brice and Bing Crosby.

In her autobiography, Martin described her childhood as extremely happy. As an adolescent, she was sent to a strict finishing school in Nashville, Tennessee, and grew homesick for her family and high school sweetheart Jackson Hagman. When she returned home, she convinced her parents to allow her to get married to Hagman, and by the age of 17, she was pregnant with her first child, Larry, who would grow up to become an actor who was well-known for his roles playing Major Anthony Nelson on I Dream of Jeannie and J.R. Ewing on Dallas.  It was her sister, Geraldine, who suggested Martin channel her creative impulses by teaching dance which inspired Martin to open her own dance studio in Mineral Wells, Texas.

Off to Hollywood

In an odd twist of fate, Martin's dance studio was burned down by a local man who thought what she was teaching was sinful. At this time, her father encouraged her to end her marriage, saying she was too young, and Martin left for Hollywood, leaving her husband and son Larry behind.

In Hollywood, Martin got busy auditioning and earned the nickname "Audition Mary," for never missing an opportunity to perform for a job. At one of these fateful auditions, the composer Oscar Hammerstein II heard her sing, and this would help launch her legendary Broadway career and later collaboration with him.

Broadway Stardom

In 1938, Martin made her Broadway debut in Cole Porter's "Leave It to Me!," and became an overnight success for singing the song "My Heart Belongs to Daddy." The song was particularly poignant for Martin - as her career launched, she learned her beloved father slipped into a coma and later died.

Martin continued with a series of Broadway smash hits, winning Tony Awards for playing Nellie Forbush in Richard Rodgers and Oscar Hammerstein II's 1949 production of South Pacific, the title role in 1954's Peter Pan and Maria in 1959's The Sound of Music. She also starred opposite Robert Preston in 1966's I Do! I Do!

Death & Legacy

On November 3, 1990, Mary Martin died from colorectal cancer at her home in Rancho Mirage, California. She was 77 years old. She is remembered as a Broadway star whose legendary performances made theater history.

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