American Vaudeville Museum

All material 1998-2011 American Museum of Vaudeville, Inc. Page 3

Martha Raye

1916 1994


Martha was the family workhorse since the age of three and never saw the inside of a school. Lacking guidance, her impulses vetoed her raw intelligence, nevertheless she developed into a protean talent after a long apprenticeship in vaudeville. Few women comedians could equal her clowning and she became celebrated as a jazz singer. She danced very well, could act and had one of the finest figures ever seen on screen or stage. Martha provided the energy and laughs that often were the only highlights of her movies and she reached her peak with her 1950s television series. Her proudest achievement was her unique commitment to men in the armed services. She joined countless USA tours in WWII, Korea and Vietnam, hitching rides to the front lines after the tours returned to the USA. She told jokes, shared smokes and booze in the fox holes and bandaged the wounded as needed.