Marion Lorne
Lorne in 1957
Marion Lorne MacDougal or MacDougall

August 12, 1883[1]
DiedMay 9, 1968 (aged 84)[1]
Manhattan, New York City, U.S.
Resting placeFerncliff Cemetery, Hartsdale, New York
41°01′39″N 73°49′57″W / 41.02750°N 73.83250°W / 41.02750; -73.83250
Years active1905–1968
(m. 1911; died 1944)
Lorne with Louise Drew in the play The Florist Shop (1909)
Lorne with Louise Drew in the play The Florist Shop (1909)

Marion Lorne MacDougal[2] or MacDougall (sources differ) (August 12, 1883[1] – May 9, 1968), known professionally as Marion Lorne, was an American actress of stage, film, and television. After a career in theatre in New York and London, Lorne made her first film in 1951, and for the remainder of her life played small roles in films and television. Her recurring role as Aunt Clara in the comedy series Bewitched, between 1964 and her death in 1968, brought her widespread recognition, and she was posthumously awarded an Emmy Award for Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Comedy Series.

Early life and education

Lorne was born in West Pittston, Pennsylvania, a small mining town halfway between Wilkes-Barre and Scranton. She was the daughter of William Lorne MacDougall, MD, and his wife, Jane Louise (née Oliver), known as "Jennie". She was born in 1883 (although by the 1920s, she had shaved five years off of her age). While her year of birth is listed as 1885 in some sources, including the date inscribed on her urn (which appears to be erroneous), it was usually listed as 1888 when she was alive. The 1900 United States Census (enumerated in June 1900) gives her age as 16,[3] and along with the Social Security Death Index (SSDI), lists her year of birth as 1883. Her parents were Scottish and English immigrants. She had a younger brother, Lorne Taylor MacDougall (October 20, 1893 – September 5, 1943).[4] She studied at the American Academy of Dramatic Arts in New York City.[4]


Lorne debuted on Broadway in 1905; she also acted in London theaters, enjoying a flourishing stage career on both sides of the Atlantic Ocean. In London, she had her own theater, the Whitehall, where she had top billing in plays written by Walter C. Hackett, her husband.[4] None of her productions at the Whitehall had runs shorter than 125 nights.[4]

After appearing in a few Vitaphone shorts, including Success (1931) starring Jack Haley, she made her feature-film debut in her late 60s in Strangers on a Train (1951), directed by Alfred Hitchcock.

In the early days of TV, from 1952 until 1955 Lorne had a regular role as perpetually confused junior high school English teacher Mrs. Gurney on Mister Peepers.[5]

From 1957 to 1958, she co-starred with Joan Caulfield in the NBC sitcom Sally in the role of an elderly widow, who happens to be the co-owner of a department store.[6][7] It was cancelled after one 26-episode season.[6][7] Although afraid of live television, declaring, "I'm a coward when it comes to a live [television] show",[8] she was persuaded to appear a few times to promote the film The Girl Rush with Rosalind Russell in the mid-1950s. Between 1958 and 1964, she made regular appearances on The Garry Moore Show (1958–1962).[citation needed]

Her last role, as Aunt Clara in Bewitched, brought Lorne her widest fame as a lovable witch who is losing her powers due to old age (and whose spells usually end in disaster). Aunt Clara usually visited by coming down the chimney; her hobby was collecting doorknobs, and she often brought her collection with her on visits. Lorne had an extensive collection of doorknobs in real life, some of which she used as props in the series.[9]


She appeared in 27 episodes of Bewitched and was not replaced after she died of a heart attack in her Manhattan apartment on May 9, 1968, aged 84, prior to the start of production of the show's fifth season.[10] She is interred at Ferncliff Cemetery in Greenburgh, New York.[11]


The producers of Bewitched decided that Lorne's character as Aunt Clara could not be replaced by another actress. (Aunt Clara was never mentioned in any subsequent Bewitched episode.) Comedic actress Alice Ghostley was recruited to fill the gap as "Esmeralda", a different type of older witch with wobbly magic whose spells often went astray. Coincidentally, Lorne and Ghostley had appeared side-by-side as partygoers in the iconic comedy-drama film The Graduate, made the year before Lorne's death.[12] She received a posthumous Emmy Award for Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Comedy Series for her work on Bewitched. The award was accepted by Bewitched star Elizabeth Montgomery.

Personal life

In 1911, she married playwright Walter C. Hackett. They were married until his death in 1944. The couple had no children.[13]

Filmography and television work

Year Title Genre Role Notes
1931 Success Short film Molly's mother Uncredited
1951 Strangers on a Train psychological thriller Mrs. Anthony
July 3, 1952 to June 12, 1955 Mister Peepers sitcom Mrs. Gurney television
1955 The Girl Rush musical comedy Aunt Clara
August 21, 1955 The Ed Sullivan Show variety Herself in "The Girl Rush Show"
September 17, 1955 Perry Como's Kraft Music Hall variety Herself
1956–57 The Steve Allen Show variety Herself
1957–58 Sally sitcom Myrtle Banford television, 26 episodes
1958 Suspicion mystery drama Mrs. Foster television, one episode
1958 DuPont Show of the Month anthology series Veta Louise Simmons television, episode (television adaptation of the comedy play Harvey (1944))
1958–1964 The Garry Moore Show variety show herself television
1959 (November 25, 1959) I've Got a Secret game show herself television
1964–1968 Bewitched sitcom Aunt Clara television, 28 episodes, (final appearance)
1967 The Graduate comedy-drama Miss DeWitte

Theatre work

Awards and nominations

Year Result Award Category Series Reference
1954 nominated Emmy Award Best Series Supporting Actress Mr. Peepers [14]
1955 nominated Emmy Award Best Supporting Actress in a Regular Series Mr. Peepers [14]
1958 nominated Emmy Award Best Continuing Supporting Performance by an Actress in a Dramatic or Comedy Series Sally [14]
1967 nominated Emmy Award Outstanding Performance by an Actress in a Supporting Role in a Comedy Bewitched [14]
1968 won Emmy Award Outstanding Performance by an Actress in a Supporting Role in a Comedy Bewitched [14]

See also


  1. ^ a b c According to the 1900 United States census, MacDougall was born in 1883. However other sources cite 1885, including the urn in which her ashes are held, or 1888, which no longer has any credibility.
  2. ^ Jeb H. Perry (1980). Variety Obits: An Index to Obituaries in Variety, 1905-1978. Scarecrow Press. p. 175. ISBN 978-0-8108-1289-5.
  3. ^ 1900 census record for Marion Lorne MacDougall, although her middle initial appears as "M", not "L",; accessed September 22, 2015.
  4. ^ a b c d The Magic of Marion Lorne. TV Guide, March 23–29, 1968, pp 20-21.
  5. ^ "Information Booth" (PDF). Radio-TV Mirror. 41 (1): 12. December 1953. Retrieved November 17, 2014.
  6. ^ a b McNeil, Alex, Total Television: The Comprehensive Guide to Programming From 1948 to the Present, Fourth Edition, New York: Penguin Books, 1996, ISBN 0 14 02 4916 8, p. 719.
  7. ^ a b Brooks, Tim, and Earle Marsh, The Complete Directory to Prime-Time Network and Cable TV Shows, 1946-Present (Sixth Edition), New York: Ballantine Books, 1995, ISBN 0-345-39736-3, p. 897.
  8. ^ New York Times, September 26, 1958
  9. ^ "Aunt Clara's Doorknob Collection". Nick at Night Flashback. September 23, 2008. Retrieved July 16, 2009.
  10. ^ "Heart Attack is Fatal to Marion Lorne". Gettysburg Times. May 13, 1968. Retrieved June 1, 2014.
  11. ^ "Celebrities & Notables". Ferncliff Cemetery Association. Retrieved June 20, 2021.
  12. ^ "When Esmeralda Sneezed". harpiesbizarre. October 1, 2007. Retrieved October 1, 2007.
  13. ^ "Obituary for Marion Lome (Aged 82)". The Los Angeles Times. May 19, 1968. Retrieved November 27, 2020.
  14. ^ a b c d e Database (undated). "Marion Lorne". (database operated by Academy of Television Arts & Sciences). Retrieved October 7, 2012.