Martha Raye (b. August 27, 1916, d. 1994)
Born in the charity ward of a hospital, where her touring vaudeville parents had found themselves stranded. By the time she was three she had joined the family act and at 13 she was a specialty singer with a band. She was a 19-year-old veteran of the stage and nightclubs when she broke into films in 1935. A zestful, boisterous comedienne with a huge elastic mouth and forceful lungs, she enlivened many a light film with her zany antics. Most of her roles were in minor Hollywood productions.
The notable exception was in Chaplin's MONSIEUR VERDOUX (1947), in which she was highly entertaining as an indestructible intended murder victim. After that, she made only rare film appearances but continued performing energetically in nightclubs and burlesque shows and on TV. In 1967 she replaced Ginger Rogers in Hello, Dolly! on Broadway and in 1972 took over a lead in the revival of No No Nanette.
Most of all, she is known for her morale-boosting excursions into the battlefronts of WWII, the Korean War, and the Vietnam War. She received Presidential praise and a special 1969 Academy Award for entertaining troops in the latter war. She has been married and divorced six times. Among her former husbands were makeup man Bud Westmore and composer-conductor David Rose.