Sept. 20, 1947: Marie ‘The Body’ McDonald Marries Karl the Shoe Man

Sept. 20, 1947, L.A. Times

Note: This is an encore post from 2005 and originally appeared on the 1947project.

Marie (The Body) McDonald, 23-year-old film actress, last night was married to Harry Karl, 33, shoe merchant, in a quiet civil ceremony at the home of Karl’s parents, Mr. and Mrs. Peter Karl, 829 N. Orlando St.

Superior Court Judge Edward R. Brand performed the ceremony, after which the wedding party attended a reception at the Mocambo restaurant on the Sunset Strip.

The couple will fly to New York for a three-week honeymoon, Karl said, and then return to live in Los Angeles.

Miss McDonald and Karl met at a Hollywood party 15 months ago. It was the second marriage for both. The actress divorced Vic Orsatti, theatrical agent, in Nevada five months ago. Karl was divorced from his first wife, Mrs. Ruth Karl, two years ago.

The clip file of Marie “The Body” McDonald is like a Russian novel of nightclub brawls, Reno divorces, Las Vegas elopements, car crashes, run-ins with the police for drinking and drugs, lawsuits over broken contracts, suicide attempts, unexplained hospitalizations and every once in a while, a movie. And then there’s the kidnapping.

The Times was generous in its wedding announcement. It was actually her third if you count a brief marriage when she was 18 to Richard Allord, whom the paper identified as “a young sportsman.” After three weeks, Allord told McDonald that he was still married to a previous wife.

Originally nicknamed “The Body Beautiful” and then “The Body,” McDonald was a John Powers model and singer with the Tommy Dorsey and Charlie Barnett bands who had a role in George White’s “Scandals of 1939.” While later newspaper biographies claimed she was the daughter of a Ziegfeld girl, her earliest clip, from 1941, says was born in Burgin, Ky., and went to school in Hazard, Ky., which is not exactly Ziegfeld country.

During the war years, she made the usual goodwill appearances, had an occasional car accident that put her in the hospital, and got kicked out of the servicemen’s center in Chicago for kissing GIs. “If we can’t kiss the GIs, why should an out-of-towner have the privilege—even if she is a movie actress?” a junior hostess said.

She told Louella Parsons of her divorce from Orsatti: “I still think that Vic is a wonderful person, but it’s a case of two people making each other unhappy. I’m not trying to be Hollywood, but I’m much too fond of Vic to let our marriage develop into a series of quarrels and nagging scenes.”

Parsons wondered: “What goes on with marriages when the husband and wife have only the nicest things to say about each other and still are incompatible?”
McDonald married “Karl the Shoe Man” and they adopted two children after she suffered a series of miscarriages. A week after they separated in 1954, she attacked two policemen upon being arrested in Beverly Hills for hit-and-run driving and being under the influence of drugs. She told authorities she took a mix of six Nembutals and Seconals after meeting with her lawyer and later called the Beverly Hills police “the Gestapo.” Then it was Karl’s turn, as he made two passes with his car, trying to run down news photographers staked out at the Beverly Hills Municipal Court.

A month later, they made a tour of European capitals trying to get remarried, only to be rebuffed. They planned a Las Vegas wedding that she called off at the last minute and finally got remarried in Yuma, Ariz., in 1955.

Although they separated soon after, she became pregnant in 1956. Because it was a complicated pregnancy, a divorce hearing was held in her bedroom. On Sept. 10, 1956, she gave birth to a daughter, Tina Marie.

A year later, McDonald disappeared from her home in Encino, making front-page news in the Mirror, The Times’ afternoon tabloid. She turned up in the desert near Indio with an elaborate story, but suspicions were aroused when it turned out her tale closely paralleled a novel found in her home: “The Fuzzy Pink Nightgown.”

A planned wedding to stockbroker Blake Garner in 1958 was called off. In 1959, she married agent Lou Bass, a union that lasted 10 months, and then Edward P. Calahan in 1962. In 1963, she was convicted of forging prescriptions for Percodan.

Her final husband, agent Donald F. Taylor, found her slumped over her dressing table at 4 a.m. on Oct. 21, 1965, in their home at 5337 Jed Smith Road. The coroner ruled her death an overdose, but was unsure whether it was a suicide.

Marie “The Body” McDonald was 42.

Only 50 people attended her funeral at Forest Lawn, and her pallbearers included three attorneys who handled her divorces. The Rev. Richard L. Brooks devoted much of the eulogy to her children, Danice, 16; Harrison, 15, and Tina, 9.

“When a child loses his mother early in life, it seems like life will stretch on endlessly with the loss. You have learned to love the love you have received from her,” Brooks said.

Harry Karl died 1982 at the age of 68. He was married five times, the last being to Debbie Reynolds. Donald F. Taylor committed suicide a year after McDonald’s death.

Bonus factoid: “The Fuzzy Pink Nightgown” was made into a movie starring Jane Russell and was based on the novel by Sylvia Tate. It was subtitled: “The extraordinary kidnapping of Hollywood’s highest priced bundle of sex.”

Bonus quote: “Newspaper people of standing do not misquote the people they interview.”—Louella Parsons, on McDonald’s habit of recanting her comments.

About lmharnisch

I am retired from the Los Angeles Times
This entry was posted in 1947, Crime and Courts, Film, Hollywood and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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