Aged 18, she opened a dance school in her home town Weatherford, Texas. When that burned down, she went on to sing on radio and performing song-and-dance numbers in nightclubs in California. During a talent show at the Trocadero in Los Angeles, she was spotted by the producer Lawrence Schwab, who later took her to New York and arranged her first audition for a Broadway musical.
Biography in: "The Scribner Encyclopedia of American Lives". Volume Two, 1986-1990, pages 610-611. New York: Charles Scribner's Sons, 1999.
Broadway stardom came with her support role in the musical "Leave It to Me" wherein she stopped the show with her mock striptease rendering of "My Heart Belongs to Daddy" while posing on top of a large cabin trunk at a Siberian railway station. Paramount saw her in this and immediately signed her up for films.
Famed Hollywood photographer George Hurrell Sr. found her less than photogenic, particularly in profile, and did most of his glamour shots full-face.
Featured in a song by Canadian indie band The New Pornographers, which song creates a fictional TV program, "The Martin Martin Show," and then makes surreal references to it. Mary Martin in fact never had a TV show called "The Mary Martin Show, although she did host a senior citizens' talk show for a few years in the 1980s.
Former mother-in-law, from 1962 to 1972, of Tony Weir.
Gave birth to a stillborn baby in May, 1945. Her daughter, Heller Halliday, was bitten badly by a dog, causing Martin to go into shock and be rushed to the hospital. This resulted in the stillbirth of her baby, as well as a blood transfusion.
Had a reputation for never missing a performance and for never uttering profanities in public, on or off stage.
Her daughter, Heller Halliday, was born on November 4, 1941, in Los Angeles. She insisted her second child was going to be a girl and she was right. Her godmothers were Judith Anderson and Jean Arthur.
Her father was a lawyer and her mother a violin instructor.
In 1982, Mary Martin, friend and manager Ben Washer, actress Janet Gaynor and Gaynor's husband, Paul Gregory, were riding in a taxi cab when a drunk driver named Bob Cato sped through a red light and smashed into their vehicle at the corner of Franklin and California Streets. The four were on their way to dinner in downtown San Francisco. Mary and Paul Gregory suffered multiple injuries but recovered. Washer was killed. Ms. Janet Gaynor subsequently died in 1984 from complications of her injuries.
In 1986-87, while in her 70s, she toured in the play "Legends" with Carol Channing, which is chronicled in an excellent, highly amusing book "Diary of a Mad Playwright: Perilous Adventures on the Road with Mary Martin and Carol Channing" by James Kirkwood Jr. (Pulitzer Prize winning author of the Broadway play and source material for the film A Chorus Line (1985)). The production of "Legends" was a troubled one, largely because Mary had a difficult time remembering her lines. She had to be fitted with a wireless earpiece so that a prompter could feed her lines when necessary. Nevertheless, she was a hard worker and a true professional. The book is an excellent insight into the personalities of both actresses.
Introduced the song "Speak Low" in her Broadway hit "One Touch of Venus."
Made her final appearance on the London stage in the 1980 Royal Variety Performance when she performed an engaging version of "Honeybun" from one of her biggest musicals "South Pacific."
Mother-in-law of Bromley DeMeritt, Jr. and Maj Axelsson.
One of the few stars that legendary costume designer Edith Head disliked, or at least disliked working with. (The others were Paulette Goddard, Hedy Lamarr and Claudette Colbert).
Recreated her first Broadway showstopper "My Heart Belongs to Daddy" in the film biography of Cole Porter in Night and Day (1946).