Reference Entry

Marley, John

Albert F. McLean

in American National Biography Online

Published in print January 1999 |
Published online February 2000 | e-ISBN: 9780198606697 | DOI:

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Marley, John (17 October 1907–22 May 1984), character actor, was born Mortimer Marlieb in New York City, the son of Russian immigrants Harry Marlieb, a vestmaker who loved classical music, and Ida Balterman, the “wise woman” who counseled her neighbors. Marley’s early years were spent on the streets of Harlem, where he had to use his fists to survive. His drifting into dramatics was, as he later saw it, an alternative to joining a street gang. He probably completed the twelfth grade in school and took courses at the City College of New York. For the most part, however, he was self-educated. Having no formal training in acting, he acquired his skills by performing with shoestring amateur groups. He told an interviewer, “I was working in experimental theatre, enjoying myself for seven years before I drew my first paycheck as an actor” ( ...

Reference Entry.  1296 words. 

Subjects: Film

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