Actress Marjorie Lord of ‘Make Room for Daddy’ dies

Posted at 11:39 PM, Dec 12, 2015
and last updated 2015-12-12 23:39:12-05

Actress Marjorie Lord, who rose to fame in Hollywood’s Golden Age and starred in the television series “Make Room for Daddy,” died of natural causes at age 97, her family said.

Lord died in her Beverly Hills home on November 28, said her daughter, actress Anne Archer. The family did not publicly announce her death until Friday in an obituary for the Los Angeles Times. She was on hospice care the last few weeks of her life.

“Her health began to fade about two years ago and we thought we were going to lose her in a few months, but she would just keep rallying. I think she had the best parties of her life in the past two years,” Archer said. “She had family and friends around her nonstop for all the last years of her life.”

Lord got her start as an actress in theater before transitioning to film and television.

Born in San Francisco in 1918, Lord moved with her family to New York when she was 15 and enrolled in acting and ballet classes, according to her official biography.

She was 18 when landed her first Broadway role in “The Old Maid,” starring Judith Anderson. After signing with RKO Studios she was cast in feature films “Border Cafe” (1937) and “Forty Naughty Girls” (1937). She met her first husband, actor John Archer, on the set of stage production “The Male Animal.” They married in 1941 and moved to Hollywood, appearing in two films together: “Sherlock Holmes in Washington” and “Shantytown.” They had two children, daughter Anne and son Gregg.

Lord also starred alongside James Cagney in “Johnny Come Lately” before landing the role that made her a household name. She was cast as the second wife of widower Danny Thomas in “Make Room for Daddy,” which debuted in 1953 on ABC and continued on CBS for seven seasons. She won viewers over as the gracious counterpart to Thomas’ comedy antics.

Lord received a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame in 1960 and continued to appear onstage after the series ended. She returned to television for appearances in 1971’s “Make Room for Granddaddy” and “Sweet Surrender” in 1987.

After divorcing her first husband, she married actor Randolph Hale in 1958. Their marriage ended with his death in 1974, and she married banker Harry Volk, then chairman of Union Bank, in 1975.

Through Volk, she got involved in charities and philanthropic causes in Los Angeles. She served on various boards over the years, including the Joffrey Ballet and Friends of USC Library, where she helped found the Scripter Award for promising screenwriters.

She is survived by her two children and numerous grandchildren from her three marriages.

The family will hold a private memorial service on Tuesday, Archer said.