A NUTTY NUT
NEWS NETWORK EXCLUSIVE
Marshall Interview 1990
Text by Mike David
Actress Trudy Marshall, the leading
lady in Laurel and Hardy's 1943 effort, "The Dancing Masters",
talks with Laurel and Hardy author Scott MacGillivray about how
she got her start in films and how her work as a photographic
model led to film roles.
Finally, Scott amusingly describes his
surprise first meeting with Miss Marshall.
Recorded at the Sons 1990 International
Convention in Clearwater, Florida.
Photographer's model turned actress
by Tom Vallance,
The Independent, June 14th,2004.
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
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