Marjorie Augusta Gateson
January 17, 1891
Brooklyn, New York, U.S.
|Died||April 17, 1977 (aged 86)|
New York City, U.S.
Marjorie Augusta Gateson (January 17, 1891 – April 17, 1977) was an American stage and film actress.
Gateson was born in Brooklyn, New York, to Augusta and Daniel Gateson. Her maternal grandfather and brother were clergymen; Some sources state her father was one too, but Axel Nissen in his book Mothers, Mammies and Old Maids: Twenty-Five Character Actresses of Golden Age Hollywood writes that he was a contractor. She attended the Packer Collegiate Institute and the Brooklyn Conservatory of Music, the latter being where her mother taught elocution. She believed her mother had "an inner longing for the stage", which she passed on to Marjorie, along with diction and poise.
Gateson's musical schooling helped her land a job in the chorus in a play called The Pink Lady. She made her Broadway debut at the age of 21 in the chorus of the musical The Dove of Peace on November 4, 1912; the show closed after 12 performances. During the much longer run of her next Broadway play, The Little Cafe (November 12, 1913 – March 14, 1914), she played several of the characters. In 1917's Broadway musical Have a Heart, she sang two songs. She performed in musical comedies for another decade, ending with Oh, Ernest! (1927), but also appeared in non-musical comedies and dramas. After the Broadway comedy As Good as New in 1930, she set out for Hollywood.
Gateson made her film debut in 1931, after more than two decades on the stage, playing secondary character roles as women of wealth and breeding, who were often haughty and aloof. She is perhaps best known as the society matron who attempts to thwart Mae West's character's plans for social climbing in the 1935 film Goin' to Town, and as a rather kinder socialite whom Harold Lloyd teaches to box in 1936's The Milky Way.
Other films in which she appeared include The King's Vacation (1933; her largest role, the female lead opposite George Arliss), Bureau of Missing Persons (1933), Private Number (1936), You'll Never Get Rich (1941), International Lady (1941), and Meet The Stewarts (1942). Her film work petered out in the late 1940s and she jumped into television roles.
She made her small screen debut in 1949. She was featured in the 1949 television soap opera One Man's Family and found success in 1954 at age 63 playing matriarch Grace Harris Tyrell on the daytime soap The Secret Storm, a role she would play until 1968. Gateson also made numerous other television appearances in the 1950s, including episodes of Hallmark Hall of Fame, Robert Montgomery Presents, and United States Steel Hour.
Gateson never married and said: "I wanted nothing but to be an actress. I didn't even consider trying both."
Gateson suffered a stroke, which ended her acting career, and died several years later in 1977 of pneumonia, at the age of 86 in Manhattan.