A Mary Wickes Week Celebration! (#4): Letters from Mary's Famous Friends

A Mary Wickes Week Celebration! (#4): Letters from Mary's Famous Friends

My week-long celebration of character actress Mary Wickes continues today with a look at the letters of incredibly famous individuals who contacted Mary throughout the years.

According to biographer Steve Taravella: “So great was Mary’s need to feel connected to others – to feel herself a part of the Hollywood extended family – that much like an adoring fan, she methodically saved correspondence she received from well-known people. She did this even if the correspondence was mundane and even if she did not know the sender well.” (Taravella 225)

I hope you enjoy this walk down Memory Lane and we visit some of Broadway and Hollywood’s elite!

Bing Crosby (Actor and Singer, appeared with Mary in White Christmas): 

(A note of friendship to Mary)


(A letter thanking Mary for her kind words during his hospitalization)



Irving Berlin (Broadway and Film Composer of White Christmas, Annie Get Your Gun, and Call Me Madam):

(A letter of happiness that Mary was able to be in Berlin’s movie White Christmas)



Kaye Ballard (Comedienne):

(A Christmas/New Year’s greeting from Miss Ballard, including a quirky little sketch)



Fred Astaire (Actor, Singer, and Dancer – star of Swing Time and Easter Parade)

(A letter thanking Mary for her kind words regarding his Emmy win for Best Actor with A Family Upside Down)


Carol Channing (Broadway Actress and star of Hello Dolly)

(A letter thanking Mary for her kind words during Carol’s illness)



Dominick Dunne (Author of An Inconvenient Woman)

(A letter lamenting that CBS TV didn’t still hold the rights to Mary Poppins in 1957, a role which Mary would play before Julie Andrews for the Studio One show on CBS in 1949. Mary was keen to say that “I was the original Mary Poppins-nobody did it before me!” (Taravella 203)



Jimmy Durante (Actor and Singer):

(A letter lamenting not choosing Mary for his new Radio show in 1947)


(A letter thanking Mary for her Get Well note)


(A Christmas card)


(Another Thank You card)



Edna Ferber (Author of Showboat):

(A letter thanking Mary for her telegrams. Mary would go on to play Parthy in the Musical version of Showboat in 1968)


Kitty Carlisle Hart (Actress and Game Show Maven):

(A letter thanking Mary for her gift of silver. Interesting notes: 1. Mary was in Kitty’s Father Moss’ play The Man Who Came to Dinner and 2. Mary replaced Hart in an episode of the TV Show You Can’t Take it With You as a Society Matron [Ibid.])

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Milton Berle (Comedian and “Mr. Television”):

(A letter letting Mary know what a pro he thinks she is. Interesting note: In St. Louis in 1971, “Berle stopped in front of a poster with a large publicity photo promoting an upcoming appearance by Mary. ‘She looks like a c**t with a torn pocket,’ Berle observed aloud…” [Ibid.])



Eva Gabor (Star of Green Acres and Sister of Zsa Zsa):

(A letter lamenting that she is not doing a production of Noel Coward’s Blithe Spirit)



Ricardo Montalban (Star of Fantasy Island):

(A letter thanking Mary for her kind words upon seeing him perform in the Musical The King and I in 1965)


Richard “Dick” Nixon (President of The United States):

(A signed form letter expressing regret losing to John F. Kennedy in 1961. Mary was an ardent Republican)


Hal Prince (Broadway Producer of Cats, Follies, Sweeney Todd, and more):

(A letter expressing his admiration for Mary as an actress and hoping they will work together some day. Sadly, they never did. 1980 would be around the time of his smash hit Evita with Andrew Lloyd Webber. Maybe Mary was gunning to play Eva Peron?)


Ezio Pinza (Opera and Broadway Star of South Pacific):

(A letter expressing happiness that his show I, Bonino is a hit in California. The 1953 series was Mary’s last venture into live TV and Mary played, of course, Pinza’s Housekeeper [Ibid.])



Ed Sullivan (Host of The Ed Sullivan Show):

(A letter thanking Mary for contacting him)



Danny Thomas (Star of The Danny Thomas Show and Make Room for Daddy):

(A letter thanking Mary for her good wishes)


Jimmy Stewart (Star of It’s a Wonderful Life):

(A letter thanking Mary)



Jack Warner (Head of Warner Brothers Studio):

(A letter thanking Mary for working at his studio. Mary was a contract player for WB starting in 1940 [Ibid.])



Mike Nichols (Director/Producer), John Calley (Producer), and  Neil Machlis (Executive Producer):

(All three thanking Mary for appearing as Shirley MacLaine’s Mother and Meryl Streep’s Grandmother in the 1993 movie Postcards from The Edge, based on the novel by Carrie “Princess Leia” Fisher)



Jay Leno (Late-Night TV Show Host):

(A letter thanking Mary for appearing on his show in 1992)


(All letters courtesy of: Mary Wickes Papers, Washington University Libraries, Department of Special Collections, University Archives – Series 7, Box 1)

(Photo of Mary Wickes courtesy of: Mary Wickes Papers, Washington University Libraries, Department of Special Collections, University Archives – Series 4, Box 1)

Taravella, S.. Mary Wickes: I Know I’ve Seen That Face Before. Mississippi: University of Mississippi Press. 2013.

**I implore you to continue watch my blog this week (October 17th through the 23rd) , as I’m devoting the entire week to the life and times of character actress Mary Wickes! I scoured her personal archives at Washinton University in St. Louis and have many fascinating discoveries to share with you!**

I invite you to visit my new website, StevenKrage.com! I’m very proud of my new creation and would love to hear your feedback about it.

And  the newest episode of my podcast, The Objectivist and The Vegan, has just been uploaded to SoundCloud

In this episode, Steven and Jack debate the good and the bad of the 1990s. Dating advice and potential pitfalls also get the glamrous verbal lashing of Mr. Krage and Mr. Bower! Click the orange play button below to enter our nutty world:

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