Margaret "Maggie" Olwen McCorkle (February 20, 1924 - October 15, 2005) was a performing artist, she had "glamour days" from the early 50's Supper Club, she was dancer, summerstock actress, she had also a modeling career. A Cherry Grove drag queen named Panzi (aka Thom Hansen) said "The Grove without Maggie is like Paris without the Eiffel tower. Maggie was the heart and soul of Cherry Grove." Panzi, who shared drinks with Maggie on Panzi's 21st birthday, closed with "Maggie is like a Saint in my heart".

Maggie graduated from the U. of Kentucky with a BA in Drama and was chosen by a theater company in Cambridge Massachusetts for summer stock at Plymouth Beach. She joined their year-round company as their character ingénue and year-round stock at Harvard Square. She had several affairs there and her Phys. Ed. Teacher from the U. of Kentucky came to visit. She realized she was becoming very actively gay and didn't know what to do about it so she decided to move to New York City. She arrived by bus and landed in the middle of the West 40s with $20 and a dime. She lived with four Broadway gypsies and they took care of her. She took an evening job at CARE downtown so she could audition during the day. She immediately had an affair with a woman at CARE and learned about New York's gay bars. She left CARE after a few months and got a night job teaching dancing at Arthur Murray's home studio and doing some of their commercials.

She appeared in Julius Monk's cabaret revues and The Blue Angel. For many years, Maggie starred in musicals at Cherry Grove, Fire Island, while working in the concert management field. In addition, she protested the overbuilding of homes on Fire Island, battled organizations intent on destroying beaches and bays and took her protests to Washington. She was not to be dealt with lightly. She was a witty, loving, thoughtful, and devoted friend who brought joy to many.

McCorkle described Cherry Grove in the 1950s: "It was like a gay country club. There were a lot of show business people, writers and people in the fashion world. Miles White and Oliver Smith, well-known on Broadway for staging and lighting, had rented a house named "Shadows" near the Bridge of Sighs. Kay Guiness had been in Cherry Grove since the 1930s and looked askance at the young crew coming from Manhattan who started naming their houses "Cats on a Hot Tin Roof" and "Four of a Kind." There were well known people like Natalia Danesi Murray, Alan Prescott, Janet Flanner (Genet), and occasionally people like Anna Magnani, Tennessee Williams, Diana Barrymore and a drunken Veronica Lake. "  McCorkle kept going back to Cherry Grove, for, as she said: "The beautiful beach and because it was gay. There were some straight people from the mainland and they were so nice. The theater was also a big attraction as well as the theater people in the Grove. George Freedley, a Cherry Grover, was the treasurer of ANTA then and was also a Broadway critic. "

Her three most vivid memories of her Grove experience were the arrival of Anna Magnani when she visited Natalia Murray and getting to know Janet Flanner who was Genet of "The New Yorker." She also remembered the Bestigi Ball given by Miles White and Oliver Smith at Shadows, their house on the Bay. It was decorated to a tee. A beautiful lesbian named Bea Greer came as Cleopatra. She came out of the bay on a barge pulled in by Nubians in black paint. Betty Lee and McCorkle went as pirates and arrived in a gondola.

The women who had bought Natalia Murray’s old house and who were Republicans began work on a bulkhead, but were reported to Brookhaven, the county seat, probably, by Maggie MacCorkle who was thought to dislike the “Republicans,” and whose house was kitty corner to theirs.

McCorkle died October 15, 2005 after a brief illness.


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