According to her authorized biographer Noonie Fortin
, Martha Raye
enjoyed making Jumbo
and working with Doris Day
. In her 1995 book Memories of Maggie
, Noonie says, "When I was at her home in 1990, Martha told me that she really enjoyed making the film and working with Doris and Jimmy [Durante]. Movie posters from this film hung in her guest bathroom."
I'm a lifelong fan of both Martha Raye
and Doris Day
and I became friends with Noonie Fortin
after her first book was published. She's visited in my home and we correspond frequently. I do know from her and also comedian Jack Carter
, with whom I performed in an original musical in Nashville several years ago, that Martha's husband Nick Condos
could be very unpleasant and explosive. If anyone was unhappy about Doris turning their bar into a soda fountain, it was more likely Nick than Martha. Although, Martha was known to be unpredictable and may have made a comment but it was probably said as a joke, if at all. It also smacks of a press release item, poking fun at the wholesome personna of Doris who would probably never allow a bar in her home unless it was a soda fountain. I doubt the validity of the story to begin with.
As to Martha's drinking habits, she did love her vodka, according to several sources. But I question whether she ever showed up for work drunk or "reeking." She never stopped working from the age of 3 until she became disabled by diabetes in the late 1980s and could not have kept up that pace if she was an alcoholic. These old show biz characters love to embroider their reminiscences and they grow more colorful year by year. Lord knows Martha did the same thing. On the new Laurel & Hardy DVD set, Jerry Lewis completely fabricates a long story about how Laurel discovered Hardy who was working on the Hal Roach lot as a carpenter. Why he decided to rewrite history simply baffles me. So sometimes these old timers either don't remember so they make it up or they prefer telling their own version of history because it's more fun. Who knows?
Noonie's website about Martha "Col. Maggie" Raye can be found here: http://www.colonelmaggie.com
Noonie's biography of Martha Raye is available on the website and she'll even autograph it for you.
Thanks for reading.