Miss Missouri 1933 Marie Marks - semi-finalist
Marie's first title in 1933 was "Miss Terraplane" as she was picked by the Hudson-Frampton Motor Car Company, and they sponsored her in the subsequent state Pageant held in St. Louis. An underaged 15, Marie apparently lied to the press about her age at the time, but later boasted about it. Crowned Miss Missouri in mid-July, she and six other MidWest contestants embarked on a seven-week "Whistle Stop Tour" to Atlantic City where she was an early favorite and a semi-finalist. Immediately after the Pageant Marie, even at the tender age of just 15, sought her fame in Hollywood where she had parts in at least a dozen movies over the next five years.
|1930 Garnett Marks family census form - Los Angeles, CA|
La Monica Apts., 5624 Santa Monica Blvd.
Garnett Marks, 31 (MO), singer, radio studio (married at age 20)
Birdie L.*, 33 (AR) (married at age 16), Marie Latourette, 11 (TX).
Marie is living with her mother and stepfather, and using her (birth) surname Latourette, although she entered the Miss Missouri contest as Marie Marks (1933 article), and also used Marks as her stage name. The family moved back to Garnett's hometown of St. Louis in 1931. Birdie and Garnett have been married for about 10 years.
|Marie from the panorama shot - age 15|
|Marie Marks, named "Miss Missouri"|
|1933 - Marie is thought to be third from the right|
|1933 - Marie is second from left|
But pehaps what is most fascinating is what is not reported -- the reaction that Marie and her mother must have had to the newcomer to the group: Miss Illinois Lillian Kroener. They must have been stunned. She was none other than the fellow St. Louis resident who was the third-place winner in the Miss Missouri contest on 7/13! Undoubtedly, Marie immediately complained to Lillian, and probably the other five MidWest contestants, about Lillian's shenanigans. Little did any of them realize what a ruckus this would cause in Atlantic City, involving a third of the contestants and four disqualifications.
When word leaked out about the residency issues to the New York contestants and/or their RKO sponsors, things snowballed rapidly. Residency verification was demanded of all the contestants, and 10 telegrams were hurriedly dispatched to town mayors apparently on the first or second day. Four of the seven Midwest contestants ended up being disqualified by day 3, Lillian and the contestants from Arizona, Idaho and Iowa. The issue had initially revolved around just Lillian, the others were likely just caught up in the whirlwind that ensued.
In Atlantic City, Marie was one of the eight contestants singled out by the newspaper as an early favorite of the crowd: "And already Atlantic City is choosing favorites from among the beauties. Although the public will not be the judges the public, judging from its comments at every appearance of the beautiful young women have chosen favorites and the first day witnessed eight beauties win popular acclaim: Miss Ohio, Miss New York City, Miss New York State, Miss California, Miss Wisconsin, Miss West Virginia, Miss Washington State and Miss Missouri seemed to take with the crowds." The only other mention is that Miss Missouri is one of the 18 semi-finalists.Blanche McDonald "happened to hear of the call sent out by Busby Berkeley, director of ensembles and dances for many a screen musical, just then visiting New York" (12/17 article); they joined 4500 other girls to hope to be chosen as having a "distinct screen peronality" -- both made the cut, and with four others, went to Hollywood.
"The six girls picked by Busby Berkeley, famous New York dance director, have hung up a new Hollywood record. Six days after arriving in Hollywood, here is what they had accomplished: Blanche McDonald, who had won the title of "Miss California" in an Atlantic City beauty contest, had undergone an appendicitis operation, with resulting complications. Marie Marks, "Miss Missouri," developed appendicitis almost immediately after her arrival in Hollywood. Marjorie Murphy, still another of the "Lucky Six," had tonsillitis and was confined to her bed. Claire Augerot put in a couple of days work and then joined the invalids via the influenza route. The remaining two kept right on working in "Hi, Nellie."" -- from "Photoplay" (Jan-Jun 1934)
Curiously, the set they first saw in Hollywood was for the rowdy and raunchy movie called "Convention City" by Warner Brothers -- the set representing the lobby of an Atlantic City hotel -- the same Ritz Carlton as they had stayed in for the pageant! It is not certain if Marie and Blanche were in this production, but both had uncredited roles as chorus girls in Dames -- a 1934 Warner Bros. musical comedy film. In 1935 "Warner starlet" Marie was a dancer in Bright Lights."
• Convention City (1933) (uncredited) .... extra
• Fashions of 1934 (1934) (uncredited) .... Chorus Girl
• Wonder Bar (1934) (uncredited) .... Chorus Girl
• Dames (1934) (uncredited) .... Chorus Girl
• A Damsel in Distress (1937) (uncredited) .... Bit Role (with Fred Astaire, George Burns, Gracie Allen and Joan Fontaine)
• Stage Door (1937) (uncredited) .... Bit Role (with Katharine Hepburn, Ginger Rogers and Lucille Ball)
• The Toast of New York (1937) (uncredited) .... Check room girl (Cary Grant starred!)
• Shall We Dance (1937) (uncredited) .... woman (Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers starred; was nominated for an Oscar)
• Super-Sleuth (1937) .... Hair Dresser
• On Again Off Again (1937) (uncredited) .... Secretary.
• Night Spot (1938) .... show girl (uncredited)
• The Stupor-Visor (1938)(short)
With a mention in the Oakland Tribune on April 18, 1937 "Marie Marks, who makes her screen debut in "The Man Who Found Him" was chosen "Miss America" [sic] in a national beauty contest when she was 15." I think this meant her screen debut as an adult -- in February 1937 her "juvenile contract" with RKO increased her salary from $75 per week to $750 per week (article and picture at above on the left). I have found no mention of the movie "The Man Who Found Him"; therefore, there may well be other small, unmemorable movies in which Marie had a part. No movie parts have been located after 1938.
|1937 chic Film Actress|
It appears that Marie, or the reporters covering her, did not stick zealously to facts in her newspaper articles of the 1930s, misrepresenting her Pageant participation sometimes as winning the title of Miss America and sometimes stating she had been disqualified because of her young age -- neither are correct.
It has been hard to discover any details of Marie's life after 1940. Marie cannot be found on the 1940 census under Marie Marks, Marie Latourette, Marie Sillman or Marie Moore (and since the census was as of Jan 1, she should not be Marie Moore). It is thought that two 1956 pictures (first and second) that identify an actress Marie Marks with actress Judy Tyler are a match. No newspaper articles or marriage/divorce records have been located.
Marie married James O. Marra sometime after his divorce in FL in 1947, and she is thought to have died childless (but with three stepchildren) in 1995. She was found through her burial records which mentioned her birthname Latourette.
Marra, Marie Latourette; Apr 22, 1918-Oct 14, 1995; died in Cathedral City age 77 is burried next to Marra, James O.; Apr 17, 1903-Sep 16, 1982; died in Rancho Mirage age 79.
SSDI "Age 77; Given Name Marie; Middle Name M Surname Latouretta; Birth Date 22 Apr 1918; State California; Event Date 14 Oct 1995".
No obituary for Marie Marra (or her husband) has been found, although there were legal notices for the settlement of her estate. It is thought that Marie had no children, or at least none that survived her, but the 1950 and 1960 census should be able to determine this definitively.
*Note: a 1942 newspaper confirms Marie's mother's name in a lawsuit as Birdie Latourette Marks
Marie was born in San Antonio, and had two younger brothers, both of whom are assumed to have died young. Texas birth record: Marie Latourette, Birth Date 22 Apr 1918, San Antonio, Bexar, Texas, Female, Father's Name Charles E Latourette, Mother's Name Irene Griffin. Irene was born circa 1894 in Arkansas (1910 census); Birdie was born circa 1897 in Arkansas; it is assumed these are the same and Birdie is a nickname of Irene (perhaps she shaved a couple years off her age when meeting the younger Garnett). Birdie and Irene were both first married at age 16. Her brothers were Louie Latourette, born Mar 10, 1919 and died Aug 30, 1923, and Lonie/Louie Latourette born Oct 13, 1919 (assumed to have also died young since not on the 1930 census with Marie). But since there is only seven months between the birth of Lonie/Louie and the first Louie, it appears that one birth record was in error, and there was only one child Louie who died at age four.
Marie and her family cannot be found on the 1920 census; they should be living in Texas. In 1920 Garnett Marks is 20 and single, living in St. Louis with his parents. In 1940 Garnett and Birdie are living in New York while Marie is thought to still be in Los Angeles. There is another Marie Marks born 1918 in St. Louis, daughter of Clarence (unknown relationship to Garnett) and Dorothy, on the 1920 and 1930 census; this is not a match.
Marie sometimes used Marks and sometimes used Latourette as her surname. Although her pageant name was Marks (1933 article) and her stage name was Marks, and she used Latourette as a middle name when she married Sillman (clipping), another Hollywood article specified her actual surname as Latourette and Marks as a stagename.
Her stepfather Garnett was a broadcaster born in St. Louis (first biography and second). He was also an actor, known for his roles in Philo Vance's Gamble (1947), G.I. Jane (1951) and The Cisco Kid (1950). Obituaries have not been located for either Garnett or Birdie; these too would likely confirm if Marie had any children.
Digital searching of newspapers has not found helpful articles after the 1940s. No marriage records for Marie have been located; it is unknown if there was any marriage after Oscar Moore and prior to James Marra, and it is unknown if the Marra marriage took place in CA.