“Marjorie Main: The Life and Films of Hollywood’s Ma Kettle” is a mouthful. But this new biography by Michelle Vogel, published by the distinguished publishing house of McFarland, is a one-of-a-kind gem. So many books written about the actors and actresses we all know and love for their exemplary work on the great Silver Screen just don’t grab us or hold us spellbound. Books about Olivier, Hattie McDaniel and Louella Parsons, for example, all sound fascinating and interesting but most fall short of their marks because so many writers choose the same icons over and over to write about.
Not this author. Michelle Vogel, one of the most valued and respected writers in the industry has struck gold again. First, it was another McFarland publishing production, Vogel’s “Gene Tierney: A Biography” and now her main story. Both books are Big Screen worthy of a biopic.
This book is filled with over seventy-six photographs and 216 pages with a very nicely designed hardcover. (You’d expect less from McFarland?)
But back to Main. A well-respected actress in a time when women were not powerhouses in the business, she’s now largely forgotten, but not because of a lack of work. She had lots. This book chronicles Main’s childhood in Indiana and delves into what led her to become a star. When I first read it in two nights, I couldn’t put it down. Then I went back and read it for the third time just to get a feel of it. Vogel, a young new mother, seems to have channeled herself into Marjorie Main’s very soul and almost time-travels with her to understand (and make her readers understand) what life was for this performer. From Stage to Theatre and the Big Screen, Main’s life was never boring. Nor is this book. I suggest every Hollywood historian, actress and actor purchase this remarkable volume. Vogel and McFarland appear to have a marriage made in publishing heaven. She continues to produce best-sellers and this one will be no exception.