Martha O'Driscoll

Martha O' Driscoll
Born March 4, 1922(1922-03-04)
Tulsa, Oklahoma U.S.
Died November 3, 1998(1998-11-03) (aged 76)
Ocala, Florida, U.S.
Occupation Actress, dancer, socialite
Spouse Arthur Appleton (July 20, 1947 – November 3, 1998; her death); 4 children

Martha O'Driscoll (March 4, 1922 – November 3, 1998) was an American film actress from 1937 until 1947. Her mother was a financial partner in the Hollywood Mar-Ken School. The school's director, Mrs. Bessire, had a son, William Kent Bessire. The two women decided to name the school after their children -- Mar came from Martha and KEN from Kent. The school remained open until the early 1960s.[1]

Trained in singing and dancing, O'Driscoll was discovered by choreographer Hermes Pan in a local theater production in Phoenix, which led to unbilled bits in musical movies from 1935. They moved to Hollywood in 1935, but Pan was out of town, so they answered an advertisement for dancers and O'Driscoll was given a role in Collegiate (1935), a musical. Betty Grable had an early leading role in the film and its songwriters, Mack Gordon and Harry Revel, played themselves as co-chairmen of the school's music department.

She was groomed in more visible parts and began pitching products for Max Factor and Royal Crown Cola, among many others, in magazine ads, while such endorsements promoted her upcoming pictures in return. She had other small dancing roles in Here Comes the Band, The Big Broadcast of 1936 and The Great Ziegfeld. In the last, she was spotted by a Universal talent scout who arranged for her to have a screen test, followed by a contract. Her roles were initially small - in her first Universal film, She's Dangerous (1937), she was not credited by name. In the Deanna Durbin vehicle Mad About Music (1937) she was billed as "pretty girl". Her face appeared on such advertisements as Charm-Kurl Supreme Cold Wave and Max Factor Hollywood Face Powder. Universal loaned O'Driscoll to MGM for parts in The Secret of Dr Kildare (1939) and Judge Hardy and Son (1940).

It was RKO, however, which gave O'Driscoll her first two starring roles, as romantic interest to the cowboy Tim Holt in Wagon Train (1940), and notably as Daisy Mae in the first screen version of Al Capp's comic strip Li'l Abner (1940).

Paramount became interested in the actress and acquired her contract, casting her first as a maid in Preston Sturges's classic comedy, The Lady Eve (1941). Later she appeared in Reap the Wild Wind (1942). O'Driscoll was given the lead in the B film, Pacific Blackout (1942), starring Robert Preston. The actress followed this with a role in Young and Willing (1943). The studio loaned her back to Universal, which cast her in Crazy House (1943), then loaned her to RKO for Richard Wallace's stylish thriller, The Fallen Sparrow (1943).

She co-starred with Noah Beery, Jr. in five films. She was also featured in House of Dracula and Weekend Pass (both 1945). The following year she made her last Universal film, Blonde Alibi, receiving top billing as a girl who sets out to prove her lover (Tom Neal) innocent of murder. Her last film was Edgar G. Ulmer's Carnegie Hall (1947), after which she retired.[citation needed]

She toured with Errol Flynn and the USO in the early 1940s, performing for the troops all over the world. In 1943, she married Lieutenant Commander Richard D. Adams (U.S. Navy) on September 18, 1943, but they separated ten months later. Following her last film, Carnegie Hall (1947), and a final divorce decree (on July 18, 1947) from her first marriage, she married, two days later, her second husband, Chicago businessman, Arthur I. Appleton. Appleton was the president of the Appleton Electric Company. Martha retired from show business in 1947 to start and raise a family. The couple would have four children.[2][3][4]

She served as an executive in such Chicago-based organizations as the Sarah Siddons Society, the Ways and Means Committee of Chicago's Junior League, and the Women's Board of Boys Club; she was also treasurer of the World's Adoption International Fund. Throughout the 1980s and 1990s, she was a guest speaker at numerous movie-nostalgia conventions, continually putting to rest persistent rumors that she died in the early 1970s. She had three sons and one daughter. In the 1980s and 1990s, she was a guest speaker at numerous movie-nostalgia conventions.[5]

She and her second husband started Bridlewood Farm, in Ocala, Florida. Bridlewood quickly became one of the top Thoroughbred breeders in the nation. Bridlewood is the proud owner and breeder of Florida Horse of the Year and G1 winner "Forbidden Apple". The achievements of his illustrious dam "North of Eden" earned her the title of Florida Broodmare of the Year. Bridlewood Farm is the breeder of close to a hundred stakes winners so far, many of them graded, and their Bridlewood homebreds have earned in excess of $50 million. Bridlewood Farm remains recognized as one of the leaders of the Thoroughbred racing and breeding industry.[citation needed]

In 1984, the Appletons built and took delivery of a 138' Feadship yacht, called Bridlewood.



Martha O'Driscoll died on November 3, 1998, aged 76, in Ocala, Florida. She was entombed in Chicago's Rosehill Cemetery. She was survived by her four children and two stepchildren.[6]

Partial filmography

  • Carnegie Hall (1947) .... Ruth Haines
  • Criminal Court (1946) .... Georgia Gale
  • Down Missouri Way (1946) .... Jane Colwell
  • Blonde Alibi (1946) .... Marian Gale
  • House of Dracula (1945) .... Miliza Morrelle
  • The Daltons Ride Again (1945) .... Mary Bohannon
  • Shady Lady (1945) .... Gloria Wendell
  • Her Lucky Night (1945) .... Connie
  • Here Come the Co-eds (1945) .... Molly McCarthy
  • Under Western Skies (1945) .... Katie Wells
  • Hi, Beautiful (1944) .... Patty Callahan
  • Allergic to Love (1944) .... Pat
  • Ghost Catchers (1944) .... Susanna Marshall
  • Prices Unlimited (1944)
  • Weekend Pass (1944) .... Barbara 'Babs' Bradley aka Barbara Lake
  • Crazy House (1943) .... Marjorie Nelson, alias Marjorie Wyndingham
  • The Fallen Sparrow (1943) .... Whitney 'The Imp' Parker
  • We've Never Been Licked (1943) .... Deede Dunham
  • Paramount Victory Short No. T2-4: The Aldrich Family Gets in the Scrap (1943)
  • Young and Willing (1943) .... Dottie Coburn
  • My Heart Belongs to Daddy (1942) .... Joyce Whitman
  • Youth on Parade (1942) .... Sally Carlyle
  • Reap the Wild Wind(1942) .... Ivy Devereaux
  • The Remarkable Andrew (1942) .... Beamish's secretary
  • Pacific Blackout (1941) .... Mary Jones
  • Henry Aldrich for President (1941) .... Mary Aldrich
  • Her First Beau (1941) .... Julie Harris
  • The Lady Eve (1941) .... Martha
  • Li'l Abner (1940) .... Daisy Mae Scraggs
  • Wagon Train (1940) .... Helen Lee
  • Forty Little Mothers (1940) .... Janette
  • Laddie (1940) .... Sally Pryor
  • Judge Hardy and Son (1939) .... Leonora V. 'Elvie' Horton
  • The Secret of Dr. Kildare (1939) .... Mrs. Roberts
  • Girls' School (1938) .... Grace
  • Mad About Music (1938) (uncredited) .... Pretty girl
  • She's Dangerous (1937) (uncredited) .... Blonde Girl


External links

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