MARION LORNE (Aunt Clara)
Before Bewitched, television aficionados knew Marion Lorne as Mrs. Guerny on Mr Peepers, starring Wally Cox, and as a stooge on The Gary Moore Show. Long before that, Lorne had been the reigning star for many years at the prestigious Whitehall Theater in London.
She appeared in hit after hit, role after role, each written especially for Lorne by her late husband, Waiter Hackett. "There is no actress on the stage today who can be compared with her," wrote one critic. Lorne was never a raving beauty, and she knew it. But she also didn't care. Her forte was humor. "In my long, long career," she told TVGuide in 1968, "I have played everything, but comedy has always been my favorite. Most of the characters her husband created for her at Whitehall seemed to have had an Aunt Clara feel. "People seem to like this vague, silly woman," she said.
Alfred Hitchcock directed Lorne in Strangers on a Train, in which she appeared with Bewitched's Kasey Rogers. A very young Marion Lorne In He was asked which American actress could be compared to 1935 Tallulah Bankhead? Helen Hayes? Katherine Cornell?
"All of them put together, and more," Hitchcock replied. "She was more than an actress in England, she was an institution."
Lorne was born in the United States in 1886 in a Pennsylvania mining town called West Pittston, near Wilkes-Barre. Her parents were Scottish and English. She attended the American Academy of Dramatic Arts in New York, played summer stock in Hartford, Connecticut, and made it to Broadway, where she was an instant hit.
"I've been in a complete and absolute panic ever since," she told a reporter. "I've always wanted to retire, but I could never quit."
Lorne did try to retire once, after the sudden death of her husband in 1942. But shortly thereafter she was offered the part of the potty old lady, Veta Louise Simmons, in the road company of Harvey.
Marion appeared in several other stage productions and numerous TV shows such as The Ed Sullivan Show, The Dinah Shore Show, and The Jack Paar Show, all prior to her Clara part on Bewitched, a role some say she was born to play and for which she posthumously received an Emmy. While the show was in production on May 9, 1968, Marion Lorne passed on at the age of
*Biography from "Bewitched Forever" by Herbie J. Pilato
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