Queer Places:
Fort Bragg Main Post Cemetery Fort Bragg, Cumberland County, North Carolina, USA

Larger memorial image loading...Martha Raye (born Margy Reed; August 27, 1916 – October 19, 1994), nicknamed The Big Mouth, was an American comic actress and singer who performed in movies, and later on television. She also acted in plays, including Broadway.[1] She was honored in 1969 at the Academy Awards as the Jean Hersholt Humanitarian Award recipient for her volunteer efforts and services to the troops. Raye was bisexual and enjoyed affairs with many women including Joan Crawford. Raye claimed that she had had an affair with Joan when both were working for the USO during World War II. Most of the women Joan was attracted to were highly pulchritudinous or at least very sensual (for example, Bette Davis in her youth), neither of which Raye was, at least on-screen.

From 1940–1951 Spivy ran her own nightclub, Spivy's Roof, on New York's East 57th Street.[6] The club was noted for its tolerance of gay performers and patrons; Spivy herself was a lesbian in private life. Among the artists who performed there were Frances Faye, Mabel Mercer, Moms Mabley, Thelma Carpenter, Paul Lynde, Martha Raye, Bea Arthur, Liberace, and actor-magician Fred Keating.

Raye's life as a singer and comedic performer began in very early childhood. She was born at St. James Hospital in Butte, Montana, as Margy Reed;[2][3] despite her birth certificate showing Reed, some sources in the 1970s and 1980s gave her the surname O'Reed.[4][5] Her father, Peter F. Reed Jr., was an Irish immigrant; her mother, Maybelle Hazel (Hooper) Reed, was raised in Milwaukee and Montana.[6] Her parents were performing in a local vaudeville theatre as Reed and Hooper when their daughter was born.[7] Two days later, her mother was performing again. Martha first appeared in their act when she was three years old. She later performed with her brother Bud, and the children became so popular that their parents' act was renamed Margie and Bud.

Raye's personal life was complex and emotionally tumultuous.[11] She was married seven times. Raye was a devout Methodist. She regularly attended church, read the Bible daily, and taught Sunday school.[12] Because her religious views were often misconstrued, she said, "One paper says I'm Catholic and the other says I'm Jewish. I guess that's fitting because, as a Methodist, I'm meant to be undetermined some of the time".[13] Her engagement to orchestra leader Johnny Torrence was announced in June 1936.[14] Less than two months later she commented, "They tell me I've gone Hollywood already because I got engaged to Johnny Torrence one day and broke it off the next."[15] She was married to make-up artist Hamilton "Buddy" Westmore from May 30, 1937, until September 1937, filing for divorce on the basis of extreme cruelty; to composer-conductor David Rose from October 8, 1938 to May 19, 1941; to Neal Lang from May 25, 1941 to February 3, 1944; to Nick Condos from February 22, 1944 to June 17, 1953; to Edward T. Begley from April 21, 1954 to October 6, 1956; to Robert O'Shea from November 7, 1956 to December 1, 1960; and to Mark Harris from September 25, 1991 until her death in 1994. She had one child, a daughter, Melodye Condos (born July 26, 1944), with fourth husband Condos. Politically, Raye was conservative, affirming her political views by informing an interviewer in 1984, "I believe in the constitution, strength in national defense, limited government, individual freedom, and personal responsibility. They reinforce the resolve the United States is the greatest country in the world and we can all be eternally grateful to our founding fathers for the beautiful legacy they left us."[16][17]

1958 Actresses Martha Raye Joan Crawford Press Photo (Part #: aai569) You are bidding on an original 8 x 9 press photo of Actress and singer Martha Ray, known for performing with the USO, at her wedding to Robert O'Shea with matron of honor actress Joan Crawford. Dated November 8, 1958.

Raye's final years were plagued by ill health. She had a history of cardiovascular disease and suffered from Alzheimer's disease, in addition to losing both legs in 1993 due to poor circulation. While resting in the hospital-type bed in her home, she and her husband Mark Harris (who, because of their controversial May/December relationship, became a frequent guest on the popular Howard Stern radio program) were forced to move into a hotel after their house was destroyed in the 1994 Northridge earthquake.[citation needed] Raye died at age 78 of pneumonia on October 19, 1994. Appreciation of her work with the USO during World War II and subsequent wars, she was both an honorary colonel in the U.S. Marines and an honorary lieutenant colonel in the U.S. Army earned special consideration to be buried in Arlington National Cemetery. Upon her death, it was instead requested that she be buried with full military honors in the Fort Bragg Main Post cemetery at Spring Lake, North Carolina, home of her loving and beloved United States Army Special Forces. Raye has two stars on the Hollywood Walk of Fame—one for motion pictures at 6251 Hollywood Boulevard and the other for television at 6547 Hollywood Blvd.

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