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Film Actress Madge Kennedy Is Dead at 96

June 10, 1987

Madge Kennedy, who played a series of refined ladies in theatrical vehicles ranging from "Poppy" on the Broadway stage in 1923 (where she portrayed W. C. Fields' daughter and received billing over him) to the film thriller "Marathon Man" in 1976, died Tuesday.

Miss Kennedy, one of the film industry's most senior members, was 96 and died at the Motion Picture and Television Hospital in Woodland Hills.

Although she was away from films in the 1930s and 1940s, at her death her silent and talking picture credits numbered in the dozens, while her Broadway roles involved many of the "bedroom romps" that were considered scandalous in the early 1900s.

She started acting in 1910 and within two years was acclaimed as a star on Broadway in "Little Miss Brown." She followed that with "Twin Beds," "Fair and Warmer" and several others before being placed under a film contract by Samuel Goldwyn.

Film Debut in 1917

Her picture debut came in 1917 in "Baby Mine" opposite Frank Morgan, who 22 years later became "The Wizard of Oz." She also appeared several times on stage with John Bowers, whose suicide became the touchstone for "A Star Is Born." Her last silent picture was "Oh Baby" in 1926, and she then left films to care for her mother.

She did manage a few New York stage shows in the interim and returned to Hollywood in 1952 to play a judge in "The Marrying Kind." Over the next 25 years she was seen in "The Catered Affair," "The Rains of Ranchipur," "Lust for Life," "They Shoot Horses, Don't They?" and "The Day of the Locust," where her performance as the Old Tenant in a shabby rooming house was praised by critics.

Miss Kennedy was considered the last of the glamorous cadre of original Goldwyn leading ladies that included Geraldine Farrar, Mabel Normand, Mae Marsh and Pauline Frederick.

There are no immediate survivors. Funeral arrangements are pending.

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