Melba Marshall

MelbaMarshall1

Good looking chorine with an unremarkable career that ended her Hollywood sojourn a happily married woman with two beautiful daughters, making her a decent example of a typical late 1930s Hollywood starlet.

EARLY LIFE:

Melba Mae Kruger was born on August 9, 1914, in Rochester, New York, to John Marshall Kruger and Nina Gamble.

In 1920, the small family was living with her maternal grandmother, Ella Gamble, with her first cousin, and a boarder. Sadly, her parents divorced in the mid 1920s and her mother went on to marry Charles H. Fick. Nina and Mae moved to Chicago, Illinois, to live with Charles.

Melba was not a big lover of the academical life, and gave up high school after the second grade. She ran away from Chicago, moved to New York, and danced in Earl Carroll shows and Manhattan nightclubs.

Melba got her first movie job using a sly trick. Getting, via friends, to Busby Berkley, she told him she’s a friend of Dick Powell. Delighted, Busby casts her in his newest movie. The ruse was soon found out, but she was forgiven and remained in the cast. Thus her Hollywood career started.

CAREER:

While IMDB has a page for Melba, the page is empty. Yeah, you heard that right, it’s empty. So I have no factual information about the movies Melba appeared in. Yet, she was for sure in the above mentioned Busby Berekely movie, The Big Broadcast of 1937, but was not credited in the movie’s imdb page.

While it is possible that she was only used for publicity purposes and was never officially in the movie, and that indeed she never made a movie appearance, I hope for her sake it’s not true and her appearances remain buried by the veil of time.

PRIVATE LIFE:

Melba started dating George Scott Barnes, noted cinematographer, in mid 1938. Barnes was already married twice before, to Joan Blondell and Elizabeth Wood. If his later obituaries were to be takes into account, he was married not two but at least four times (allegedly one of his former wives was named Ethel). The relationship went from strength to strength, and the two married sometime in 1939. Later that year, Barnes was sues by his former wife, Betty Wood, for the support of their son, Carlton. That should have been a red flag for Melba, but she stood by her man.

MelbaMarshall2Garnes was born in 1894, making him 20 years older than Melba. Barnes was well known as the silver tongued Romeo among the Hollywood crowd – while not at the least handsome, he was soft spoken and very gentlemanly. He mingled with the high class, and knew everybody there was to know. His specialty was the soft focus camera technique, a technique made especially to flatter a woman’s face. No wonder so many women fell for him. There wasa dark side to his genious,  however. Like many “smooth” men, he was an egoist and a hard task master, rarely submitting to anything less than what he decided was his preference. He made his former wife, Joan Blondell, have two abortions, and their marriage was a truly miserable one.

Their first daughter, Barbara Ann Barnes, was born on April 16, 1940. Their second daughter, Georgene S. Barnes was born on May 7, 1942. The marriage did not last, however, and the divorced in about 1945.

Melba married noted composer Arthur Quenzer in December 18, 1947. Quenzel was born on  October 20, 1905 NYC, NY, to Hary Quenzler and Rose Coughlin. Prior to 1930, Quenzer married his first wife, Helen Wehrle. He divorced her in about 1936.

On February 14, 1938, Quenzer married Marcoreta Hellman and lived with her father in Los Angeles. His first son, Peter Dennis Quenzer, was born on March 26, 1940. His second son, Michael Arthur Quenzer, was born on December 4, 1943. Quezner adopted her daughters upon the marriage.

Quenzer got his five minutes of fame by composing music for movies like Swiss MissThe Cowboy and the Lady  and DumboThe family lived for a long time in North Hollywood, where her husband headed the California Academy of Music. Georgene, known as Gene to her peers, followed in her mother’s footsteps by becoming a well known model in the area, winning her first title by the time she was 16 years old. She attended Reseda High School.

Her former husband George Barnes died in 1953.

Melba Mae Quenzer died on December 10, 1979, in Los Angeles, California. 

Her widower, Arthur, died on January 29, 1986 in Nevada. Together they are interred in the Hollywood Forever Cemetary.

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9 responses

  1. Melba marshall was a special guest at a 1970 showing of the 1933 movie “Footlight parade”,in a Los Angeles Cinema with 19 other former busby Berkeley-showgirls and Busby Berkeley himself.
    Melba Marshall was also in Gold Diggers of 1937 and the musical short :”Somewhat Secret”(1939)

  2. I will see what I can find. Family probably know more. I know she was in an ivory soap commercial, with her daughter and grand daughter around 1966. I will see what I can find.

  3. A few corrections, if I may…

    Arthur Quenzer’s first wife’s name was Helen Wehrle, not Gehring;

    Arthur Quenzer second wife’s name was Marcoreta Hellman, per their marriage license–wedding date February 14, 1938:

    Date of marriage with Melba Mae Barnes was December 18, 1947.

    Love the website! Thanks for all of your hard efforts…

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