Trudy Marshall

Photographer's model turned actress

Trudy Marshall was a photographer's model who became a popular film actress of the Forties and played leading lady to Laurel and Hardy in
The Dancing Masters (1943).

Gertrude Marshall, actress and model: born New York 14 February 1920; married 1944 Phil Raffin (died 1982; one son, two daughters); died Los Angeles 23 May 2004.

Trudy Marshall was a photographer's model who became a popular film actress of the Forties and played leading lady to Laurel and Hardy in The Dancing Masters (1943).

While under contract to 20th Century-Fox, she appeared in such popular films as The Dolly Sisters (1945) and Sentimental Journey (1946), and made a strong impression as Genevieve Sullivan in The Sullivans (1944), the true story of a family that lost all five of its sons in the Second World War. The mother of the actress Deborah Raffin, she returned to the screen in the Seventies to appear in her daughter's films The Dove and Once is Not Enough.

Born Gertrude Marshall in Brooklyn in 1920, her only dramatic training came at Floral Park New York High School. Her father submitted her photograph to a newspaper talent and beauty contest and, although she came second, the publicity resulted in work as a model, both in advertising and in illustrated dramas for such magazines as True Romance. Represented by Harry Conover, a top agent for fashion models, she was labelled "The Typical American Girl". In 1941, Look magazine sent Trudy and another model to Hollywood to tour the Fox studios and meet the stars for a photographic spread in the magazine. The two were also given screen tests, and Trudy was awarded a long-term contract.

While attending the studio's dramatic school, she made her screen début as an extra in Dance Hall (1941), but she had her first speaking role in Orchestra Wives (1942). Realising that she looked especially good in Technicolor, Fox gave her roles in the musicals Springtime in the Rockies (1942), Coney Island (1943) and The Gang's All Here (1943), as well as Crash Dive (1943, as a telephone operator) and Ernst Lubitsch's delightful Heaven Can Wait (1944, as Don Ameche's daughter-in-law).

She was finally given a leading role, and top billing, in the B movie about girls with government jobs Ladies of Washington (1944). Then came The Sullivans, the heart-breaking true story of a family who lost all five sons on a cruiser sunk near Guadalcanal - the incident caused the navy to set a ruling that never again should all the members of one family be assigned to the same ship. Marshall's "All-American" persona was perfect for the role of the sister who enlists in the navy after her brothers' deaths.

Marshall recently said that one of her happiest experiences was working with Laurel and Hardy in The Dancing Masters. The comedy team became very fond of her, and, although the cast list shows her name as "Mary", they refer to her as "Trudy" throughout the film.

For some time Marshall had been going out with Phil Raffin, the owner of a Beverly Hills restaurant, and in December 1944 they were married, despite the objections of the studio chief Darryl F. Zanuck. According to Marshall, this ended her chance of major stardom. She told the historian Colin Briggs last year,

Fox and Mr Zanuck liked to have their up-and-coming players single. The publicity department arranged dates for them and for the press to record those dates in fan magazines and newspapers.

Marshall had been set to co-star with Fred MacMurray and June Haver in the musical Where Do We Go From Here? (1945), but instead Zanuck borrowed Joan Leslie from Warners to fill the role, and gave Marshall a brief role as the wife of a captured airman (Dana Andrews) in The Purple Heart (1945).

She then appeared in two of the most popular Fox films of the era. In the lavish show-business biography The Dolly Sisters (1945), she was the society fiancée of a composer (John Payne) who nobly withdraws from the scene when she realises that he is in love with Jenny Dolly (Betty Grable). In the enormously popular weepie Sentimental Journey (1946), she was an actress working with a playwright (John Payne again) whose wife (Maureen O'Hara) has a weak heart. Marshall then moved to Columbia, where she was given leading roles in several B movies.

Marshall was one of several glamorous ladies who supported Red Skelton in the hit comedy The Fuller Brush Man (1948), co-written by Frank Tashlin and one of Skelton's finest films. She was a gamekeeper's daughter in Mark of the Gorilla (1950), which starred Johnny Weissmuller as Jungle Jim, and was the fun-loving girlfriend of the composer Walter Donaldson (Frank Lovejoy) in Michael Curtiz's superior musical I'll See You in My Dreams (1951). The studio had wanted their contract player Sheila Stephens (the wife of Gordon MacRae) to play the part, but Curtiz insisted on Marshall. Though the studio acquiesced, Marshall was not given billing.

After playing Susan Hayward's younger sister in The President's Lady (1952), she gave birth to her third child, Deborah, and retired to bring up her family. Occasionally she worked in television, and she had a good role in the film Full of Life (1956) as Judy Holliday's neighbour and friend.

Deborah Raffin, with her mother's coaching, followed the route from fashion model to actress, making her screen début as Liv Ullman's daughter in 40 Carats (1973). When she starred in The Dove (1974) and Once is Not Enough (1975), Marshall had cameo roles in both films.

In 1982 Phil Raffin died, by which time Trudy Marshall was a grandmother with a close and supportive family. She resided in a Beverly Hills mansion and was active in charity work, serving as president for the Smart Set, which sells clothes and accessories donated by stars for the benefit of the Motion Picture and Television Home.

Tom Vallance



Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Sport
sportSo, how closely were you paying attention during 2014?
Arts and Entertainment
Dennis speaks to his French teacher
tvThe Boy in the Dress, TV review
News
One father who couldn't get One Direction tickets for his daughters phoned in a fake bomb threat and served eight months in a federal prison
people... (and one very unlucky giraffe)
Arts and Entertainment
Joel Edgerton, John Turturro and Christian Bale in Exodus: Gods and Kings
film
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA year of political gossip, levity and intrigue from the sharpest pen in Westminster
News
i100
Arts and Entertainment
The Plaza Theatre in Atlanta, Georgia was one of the 300 US cinemas screening
filmTim Walker settles down to watch the controversial gross-out satire
Arts and Entertainment
Amy Adams and Christoph Waltz in Tim Burton's Big Eyes
film reviewThis is Tim Burton’s most intimate and subtle film for a decade
Life and Style
Mark's crab tarts are just the right size
food + drinkMark Hix cooks up some snacks that pack a punch
Arts and Entertainment
Jack O'Connell stars as Louis Zamperini in Angelina Jolie's Unbroken
film review... even if Jack O'Connell is excellent
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Ashdown Group: Senior Marketing Executive- City of London, Old Street

£40000 - £43000 per annum + benefits: Ashdown Group: Senior Marketing Executiv...

Ashdown Group: Marketing Manager

£40000 - £43000 per annum + benefits: Ashdown Group: An international organisa...

Ashdown Group: Internal Recruiter -Rugby, Warwickshire

£25000 - £30000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Internal Recruiter -Rugby, Warwicksh...

Ashdown Group: Marketing Manager/Marketing Controller (Financial Services)

£70000 - £75000 per annum + benefits: Ashdown Group: Marketing Manager/Marketi...

Day In a Page

Aren’t you glad you didn’t say that? The worst wince-and-look-away quotes of the year

Aren’t you glad you didn’t say that?

The worst wince-and-look-away quotes of the year
Hollande's vanity project is on a high-speed track to the middle of nowhere

Vanity project on a high-speed track to nowhere

France’s TGV network has become mired in controversy
Sports Quiz of the Year

Sports Quiz of the Year

So, how closely were you paying attention during 2014?
Alexander Armstrong on insulting Mary Berry, his love of 'Bargain Hunt', and life as a llama farmer

Alexander Armstrong on insulting Mary Berry and his love of 'Bargain Hunt'

From Armstrong and Miller to Pointless
Sanchez helps Gunners hold on after Giroud's moment of madness

Sanchez helps Gunners hold on

Olivier Giroud's moment of madness nearly costs them
A Christmas without hope: Fears grow in Gaza that the conflict with Israel will soon reignite

Christmas without hope

Gaza fears grow that conflict with Israel will soon reignite
After 150 years, you can finally visit the grisliest museum in the country

The 'Black Museum'

After 150 years, you can finally visit Britain's grisliest museum
No ho-ho-hos with Nick Frost's badass Santa

No ho-ho-hos with Nick Frost's badass Santa

Doctor Who Christmas Special TV review
Chilly Christmas: Swimmers take festive dip for charity

Chilly Christmas

Swimmers dive into freezing British waters for charity
Veterans' hostel 'overwhelmed by kindness' for festive dinner

Homeless Veterans appeal

In 2010, Sgt Gary Jamieson stepped on an IED in Afghanistan and lost his legs and an arm. He reveals what, and who, helped him to make a remarkable recovery
Isis in Iraq: Yazidi girls killing themselves to escape rape and imprisonment by militants

'Jilan killed herself in the bathroom. She cut her wrists and hanged herself'

Yazidi girls killing themselves to escape rape and imprisonment
Ed Balls interview: 'If I think about the deficit when I'm playing the piano, it all goes wrong'

Ed Balls interview

'If I think about the deficit when I'm playing the piano, it all goes wrong'
He's behind you, dude!

US stars in UK panto

From David Hasselhoff to Jerry Hall
Grace Dent's Christmas Quiz: What are you – a festive curmudgeon or top of the tree?

Grace Dent's Christmas Quiz

What are you – a festive curmudgeon or top of the tree?
Nasa planning to build cloud cities in airships above Venus

Nasa planning to build cloud cities in airships above Venus

Planet’s surface is inhospitable to humans but 30 miles above it is almost perfect