Marjorie Lord, a stage, film and television actress best known for playing opposite Danny Thomas in the 1950s and 1960s sitcom “The Danny Thomas Show,” died Nov. 28 at her home in Beverly Hills, Calif. She was 97.
Her family announced the death on the website MarjorieLord.com.
Initially called “Make Room for Daddy,” the show featured Thomas as a nightclub entertainer named Danny Williams and Jean Hagen as his wife. After Hagen left the series in 1956, the writers created a plotline making Thomas a widower.
His character eventually married Kathy O’Hara, a nurse who cared for one of the children. Ms. Lord was a regular performer on the show between 1957 and 1964. She played the same role in “Make Room for Granddaddy” during its only season in 1970-1971.
Marjorie Wollenberg was born in San Francisco on July 26, 1918. She moved to New York with her family at 15 and studied acting and dance. She made her Broadway debut in an ingenue role in “The Old Maid” (1935), Zoe Akins’s Pulitzer Prize-winning adaptation of an Edith Wharton novel.
She began appearing in low-budget movies and, in 1941, married actor John Archer, whom she had met in a stage production of “The Male Animal.” In 1943, they appeared on-screen together in the drama “Shantytown” and “Sherlock Holmes in Washington,” an entry in the popular mystery series starring Basil Rathbone as Holmes and Nigel Bruce as Dr. Watson.
Ms. Lord continued occasional film and Broadway roles, but nothing matched the prominence of her role on “The Danny Thomas Show.”
Her marriage to Archer ended in divorce. Their daughter, Anne Archer, was nominated for an Oscar for a supporting role in the 1987 film “Fatal Attraction.”
Ms. Lord’s second husband, Randolph Hale, whom she married in 1958, died in 1974. Two years later, she wed prominent bank executive Harry J. Volk, and then became a philanthropist. Her husband died in 2000.
Besides her daughter, survivors include a son, Gregg Archer, and five grandchildren, the family website said.
She once told the Los Angeles Times that withdrawing from acting to focus on philanthropy was “a little painful, because it is all I wanted and I struggled for, and I never thought I would pull out of acting. But I wouldn’t want to be struggling as an older actress. I would rather retire graciously.”
CORRECTION: Danny Thomas did not play himself on the TV show “Make Room for Daddy.” He played a character named Danny Williams. The story has been revised.