Whether mocking the heroics of action cinema in 1956’s Forever Darling or reacting perfectly to the antics of comic Red Skeleton as the two explored a haunted house on his long running variety show, Marilyn Maxwell was always on the mark. One of those eclectically zaftig blondes that never got the attention she deserved despite her multiple talents, Maxwell has probably been best known, and then only to aggressive cinephiles, as the agreeable accomplice to such legends as Bob Hope, Lucille Ball and Skeleton.
Beginning her career as a beautiful background artist, often cast as supple showgirls, in such MGM epics as Presenting Lily Mars and Du Barry Was a Lady (which featured both Ball and Skeleton), Maxwell eventually graduated to leading roles in such silly efforts as The Show Off (again with Skeleton) and The Lemon Drop Kid (with Hope). Her first major role as entertainer Ginger Gray in 1943’s Swing Fever even had a bit of a genre connotation as it revolved around the ridiculous exploits of a band leader cursed with an evil eye.
Skilled as a singer and dancer, Maxwell was also a hit in USO shows for the troops during WWII and the Korean War. Apparently, she was a hit with Rock Hudson as well and, thusly, has been sporadically entering the news again as Hudson’s public profile blossoms due to Ryan Murphy’s recently released Hollywood series. Apparently, after initially being set up as one of the gay actor’s beards, the two quickly grew close and even contemplated marriage. Some reports even claim that their relationship may have gone past the friendship stage.
But more than anything, Maxwell, who died at the very young age of 50 due to heart problems, deserves to be remembered for her magnetic performances and joyful spirit. She was definitely one of kind and one can imagine her spirit occasionally sprinkling out into the starlight, creating glittery energy and hopeful wanderlust for all those weary small-town kids living only for their future dreams.
Until the next time, SWEET love and pink GRUE, Big Gay Horror Fan!