Martha Raye


Martha Raye was a legendary American actress, singer, and comedian who was known for her incredible talent and larger-than-life personality. However, she was also a trailblazer in her own right, becoming one of the first women to ever perform with the USO during World War II and later earning the title of Honorary Green Beret for her service in Vietnam. Despite her many accomplishments, Martha’s personal life was often filled with turmoil and heartache, including a tumultuous marriage to Mark Harris and a scandalous relationship with a much younger man.

Early Life and Career

Martha Raye

Martha Raye was born Margy Reed in Butte, Montana in 1916. She began performing at a young age, honing her skills as a singer and dancer in vaudeville shows and on the radio. In the 1930s, she began to make a name for herself in Hollywood, appearing in films like College Holiday and The Big Broadcast of 1938.

However, it wasn’t until World War II that Martha truly became a household name. She was one of the first women to ever perform with the USO, entertaining troops in Europe, Africa, and Asia. Her performances were so popular that she was often referred to as the “female Bob Hope.”

Marriage to Mark Harris

In 1944, Martha married her first husband, make-up artist Nick Condos. However, the marriage was short-lived, and the couple divorced just two years later. Martha then went on to marry her second husband, producer Mark Harris, in 1953. The couple had one child together, a daughter named Melodye, but their marriage was far from happy.

Mark was known for his infidelity, and he often cheated on Martha with other women. Despite this, the couple remained together for over 20 years before finally divorcing in 1971. Martha later revealed that she had only stayed with Mark for so long because she was afraid of being alone.

Relationship with a Younger Man

In the years following her divorce from Mark Harris, Martha began a scandalous relationship with a much younger man named Mark O’Donnell. O’Donnell was 26 years younger than Martha, and their relationship was met with disapproval from many of Martha’s friends and family members.

Despite this, Martha and O’Donnell remained together for over a decade, until Martha’s death in 1994. In her later years, Martha often referred to O’Donnell as the love of her life and credited him with bringing her happiness and companionship during a difficult time.

Service in Vietnam and Honorary Green Beret

In 1966, Martha traveled to Vietnam to entertain troops as part of a USO tour. During her time there, she became the first civilian woman to ever be awarded the title of Honorary Green Beret by the U.S. Army Special Forces. The title was a testament to Martha’s bravery and dedication to the troops, and it remains a source of pride for her family and fans to this day.

Martha continued to perform and entertain audiences until her death in 1994. She was a true icon of American entertainment, and her legacy continues to inspire and entertain people all over the world.


Who was Martha Raye?

Martha Raye was an American actress, singer, and comedian who was popular in the 1930s and 1940s.

What was Martha Raye’s connection to the Green Berets?

Martha Raye was a staunch supporter of the US military, and she became an honorary member of the Green Berets in recognition of her tireless efforts to entertain the troops during World War II, the Korean War, and the Vietnam War.

What was Martha Raye’s personal life like?

Martha Raye had a tumultuous personal life that was marked by multiple marriages and divorces. She was also known for her struggles with alcoholism and depression.

What were some of Martha Raye’s most famous roles?

Martha Raye appeared in numerous films and TV shows throughout her career, including “Monsieur Verdoux,” “The Martha Raye Show,” and “McHale’s Navy.”

How did Martha Raye die?

Martha Raye died of pneumonia in 1994 at the age of 78.

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