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arion Shockley (Oct 10. 1908* – Dec 14. 1981)
Name: AKA Marian...
Height:
5' 1" (1.55 m)
Eyes: brown
Hair: Titian
Sister: Eleanor Ione Shockley Udell
            (Apr 28. 1919 - Jun 30. 1979)
Marriages:
 
(1) Gordon Barry Thomson, actor
      (Feb 15. 1934 - Jan 1938, divorced)

(2) George Zachary
      (Oct 5, 1939 - ca.1945, divorced)
(3) Bud Collyer (aka
Clayton Johnson
      Heermance, Jr.)
      (Oct 1946 - Sep 8. 1969, his  dead
).
     
Children (from Bud's first marriage to
      Heloise Law Green):
     
Patricia Collyer (Mrs. John Zavitz) ('39-40)
      Cynthia Ann
 Collyer ('40-41)
      and
Michael C. Collyer ('42-43).

Right: A picture of a young Marian Shockley (1930s)
A picture of a young Marian Shockley (1930s). 
* Several sources mention either 1908 or 1911, however an official 1930 census report mentions Marian as being 21 years old... birthday confirmed by a newspaper clipping from 1908.
 
Born Marion Metier Shockley in Kansas City, Missouri on October 10. 1908 to Percy Ambrose Shockley, a lawyer, and Lottie Laura Metier. As graduate of Northeast High School she started majoring in history at the University of Missouri where she was a proud possessor of a Kappa Alpha Theta pin. In 1929 she received her A.B. degree. During her stay at the University of Missouri, Miss Shockley was a familiar figure in Workshop productions. The 1929 Savitar, reviewing the Workshop play, The enchanted cottage, relates: "Marion Shockley playing the feminine lead, was instrumental in building up the play with her delightfully charming and natural acting... she brought life into an otherwise poor first act... to prove herself most worthy of the lead."

In the spring of 1930 went to Hollywood in the family car with her mother and a girl relative. She took crossing half the continent as a matter of course and drove almost the entire distance to California. Upon arriving a relative asked if she'd like to see a movie studio. So five days after she arrived she went into the Metropolitan studios as a sightseer. On the first sound stage she visited was Marshall Neilan directing Alice White in a scene for Sweethearts On Parade (1930) for Columbia. Neiland noticed Marion ("cute little blonde") and called her over.

"How would you like to work in the picture?”
Neilan said point blank.
"Oh,” said little Marion, "all right, I guess—but the studio’s awfully far from our apartment in Santa Monica.”
"It’s half past three now,”
he said. "I don’t believe we could move the studio by morning—but I’m not kidding—if you’d like to do a bit before the camera tomorrow, I’d be glad to have you.”
She laughed and said, "All right."

He bustled away to Al Christie's office. "Al," he said, "I've just seen the strangest thin that ever was in Hollywood. A good looking girl that doesn't want to get into the movies. She ought to be in. Take a look at her on the set tomorrow."
The next day at 8:30 o'clock Miss Shockley was on hand.
"How would you like to be the leading woman in 'The Freshman's Goat?' " the producer began portentously. "The what?"
" 'The Freshman's Goat' it's a college picture."

"But - you see- I've been to college - I don't believe I could qualify."
"I think," Mr. Christie said, smiling, "that Nat Ross can overcome that."
And so Marion became Little Fannie Campus in the movies and
that why she claimed to be the only girl in Hollywood's history who walked into a movie studio with a pass on a sight-seeing tour and come out with a signed contract.
 
  1930 Add for Vanity comedies. "Watch 'em step! How those boys and girls can make whoopee! A Freshman-Sophomore battle isn't in it for action by comparison with these comedies of youth. With Ray Cooke and Marian Shockley supported by a big cast you'll find plenty to bring the laughs in "The Freshman's Goat".A comedy short "Twisted Tails" for Culver Pictures, Marion Shockley and famous 'drunk' Arthur Housman.
Above left: 1930 Add for Vanity comedies. "Watch 'em step! How those boys and girls can make whoopee! A Freshman-Sophomore battle isn't in it for action by comparison with these comedies of youth. With Ray Cooke and Marian Shockley supported by a big cast you'll find plenty to bring the laughs in The Freshman's Goat. Above right: A comedy short Twisted Tails for Culver Pictures, Marion Shockley and famous 'drunk' Arthur Housman.
  Gyula Bartha and Zoltan Sulkowsja, who left Budapest two years ago to see the world from a motorcycle, as they paused in their travels at the RKO-Pathé studio, where Marion Shockley, comedienne, thus added charm to their stay. (Book Readers Image, May 30, 1931)Bob Steele en Marian Shockley in "Near the Trail's End" (1931)
Above left: Gyula Bartha and Zoltan Sulkowsja, who left Budapest two years ago to see the world from a motorcycle, as they paused in their travels at the RKO-Pathé studio, where Marion Shockley, comedienne, thus added charm to their stay. (Book Readers Image, May 30, 1931). Above right: Bob Steele and Marian Shockley in "Near the Trail's End" (1931)
 
From 1930 until 1934 she played in some 19 B-movies. She appeared in a number of Vanity two-reelers for Educational which included her screen debut  The Freshman's Goat (1930). She co-starred as Tim McCoy's leading lady in the serial Heroes of the Flames and Bob Steele's in Near the Trail's End (1931), directed by Wallace Fox. This was the last of eight Westerns Steele did for low-budget company Tiffany and the only feature film to co-star Marion Shockley. The shorts were a series of Torchy movies... with titles such as Torchy's Two Toots (1932) with Ray Cooke. Offered an acting job with a Denver stock company (Ketcham stock co. Denver, Colorado), she performed in plays as Believe me, Mr. Xantippe (March 1934) and Three Cornered Moon (1934) in which she played the role Claudette Colbert played in the movie.

She took to theatre and was one of the chief attractions of the International Players at the Vancouver theatre (1934). She also played in and around theaters in Los Angeles.
 
 Back, left to right:  Toshia Mori, Boots Mallory, Ruth Hall, Gloria Stuart, Patricia Ellis, Ginger Rogers, Lillian Bond, Evalyn Knapp, Marion Shockley. Front left to right: Dorothy Wilson, Mary Carlisle, Lona Andre, Eleanor Holm, Dorothy Layton
Above: Back, left to right: Toshia Mori, Boots Mallory, Ruth Hall, Gloria Stuart, Patricia Ellis, Ginger Rogers, Lillian Bond, Evalyn Knapp, Marion Shockley. Front left to right: Dorothy Wilson, Mary Carlisle, Lona Andre, Eleanor Holm, Dorothy Layton.
Shockley was a 1932 WAMPAS baby star. The WAMPAS Baby Stars was a promotional campaign sponsored by the Western Association of Motion Picture Advertisers in the United States, which honored thirteen young women each year who they believed to be on the threshold of movie stardom. They were selected from 1922 to 1934 and honored at a party called the WAMPAS Frolic. Those selected were given extensive media coverage. The awards were not given in 1931 and 1933 and ended after 1934 due to objections from the movie studios because of its independence.

Miss Shockley and Gordon Barry Thomson married on Feb 5, 1934 in Whatcom, WA, divorcing soon afterwards.
 
       George M. Cohan and Marian Shockley in "Dear Old Darling" (1936)
Above left: Marion Shockley "appearing in Educational pictures".
Above right: George M. Cohan and Marian Shockley in Dear Old Darling (1936)
An artist who painted her portrait introduced her to a Theater Guild official-result, parts in two Broadway productions. She landed a job as an understudy to Ina Claire but her real Broadway debut came in George M. Cohan's Dear Old Darling (March 1936). She went to her interview with selected reading from various plays under her arm, but when she walked into the office she had a surprise in store for her. Mr. Cohan and the director asked her to ad lib seven different imaginary situations portraying sadness, joy, fear and so forth. This was entirely new to Marian, but she did her best. "Now," said the director, "in this next situation you are furious. Pretend you're furious at us for asking you to do all this." Marian WAS furious, lit in tooth and nail. She told them, in no uncertain terms, exactly what she thought if their ad-lib system, picked up her coat and stormed out of the office. The director caught her in the hall and gave her the job.
The story itself suggested melodrama. Wealthy, retired Calvin Miller had been hounded by a sweet girl Jane Mayo (Marion Shockley) in her twenties, whom he met on shipboard and who has sent a photograph inscribed "To my dear old darling, with all the love of my heart and soul." Her mother (Theresa Maxwell Conover) appears soon enough, and the two gals prove to be blackmailers. This presents numerous problems for Miller, not the least that he has been courting the Widow Collins (Ruth Shepley). Matters are put in order only just before eleven o'clock. But the play was no melodrama. Indeed, it was billed as "A Comic Experience" but had to settle for a fortnight's stay.
4
In August 1936 the season at the Country Theatre drew to a close with The Pursuit of Happiness by Alan Child and Isabelle Loudin. Directed by Norris Houghton it featured Dennie Moore, Olvester Polk, Kent Smith, Barry Thomson,... and Marian Shockley. Reportedly as Prudence Kirkland, she presented the audience with a typical New England maid of '76 and the beautiful way in which she won the love of the deserted Hessian soldier, who was quartered at her home, which made for one of the most delightful parts in the play.
After appearing in several shows which came off bruised by bouts with dramatic critics and the public, she grew disenchanted. "I decided," she says, "that no one but children of wealthy parents could afford to work in the theater. I went into radio." She helped a friend make a recording for a radio show, by impersonating Judy Garland; Phil Baker promptly engaged her to impersonate Katherine Hepburn on his show, and there she was, in radio.
She was an immediate success. Within hours after her first audition, at CBS, she was cast opposite Chester Morris in a dramatic skit on a Kate Smith show. Parts came thick and fast afterward.
She fazed out her work in the theater,  playing a show or two at the Suffern County Theatre (1937). In 1938 she played the lead in Censored at the 46th Street Theater, a melodramatic comedy by Conrad Setter and Max Marcin and presented by Al Woods. Opposite Frank Lovejoy, Marion played Millicent Redmond. According to one critic she played a girl who has gone tremendously wrong and prompted the following comment: "As a bad girl she is charming."

Confining her acting effort more and more to radio she was heard on The Kate Smith Hour, The Guiding Light (1937-), Aunt Jenny's Stories (1939), ...  In 1939 she was added to Phil Baker's stooge ranks on Honolulu Bound otherwise known as The Phil Baker Show, a radio musical comedy which also featured the Andrew Sisters. In March 1940, she went on to play opposite Bud Collyer for a few episodes of Superman.
 
  Marion Shockley in a publicity shot for the play "Abie Irish Rose" (1937) Marion Shockley was heard in character portrayals in "Aunt Jenny's Stories". Mondays through Fridays at 10:45 a.m. 1939
Above left: Marion Shockley as Rosemary in a publicity shot for the play Abie Irish Rose (1937)
Above right: Marion Shockley was heard in character portrayals in Aunt Jenny's Stories. Mondays through Fridays at 10:45 a.m. (Oct 1939)
    Hugh Marlowe and Marion Shockley.From an enactment of "The Scorpion's Thumb" by members of the radio cast. Marion as Nikki leads a character to a chair...
Above left: Hugh Marlowe and Marion Shockley
Above right: From an enactment of "The Scorpion's Thumb" by members of the radio cast. Marion as Nikki leads a character to a chair...
In 1939, at CBS, producer Zachary was gathering his team for the radio version of The Adventures of Ellery Queen. In order to attract a more female audience, Dannay, Lee and Zachary added a new character to the stories: Ellery's secretary Nikki Porter. George Zachary, then the director of the show, didn't want Marion. George argued that Marion just wasn't right for the part, but three other Network officials outvoted him and the Shockley girl got the role, thus becoming the first actress to portray Nikki Porter, Ellery's secretary and low-key love interest. In the "Gum-Chewing Millionaire" she's a blonde professional typist who gets asked to work on Ellery's manuscripts. She then applies for the job of personal secretary.
On assuming the Nikki role when it was written into the show in May of 1940, Marion was surprised to find herself reading such strictly unfeminine lines as "turn on the heat and make the palooka sing!" The authors were quite as surprised as she to find they had so submerged themselves in crime-world jargon that they had lost their feeling for girlish expression. Their lapse was forgivable in that sex is of minor importance in detective mystery novels. However, now Ellery was on the air, the need for bona fide feminine interest was urgent. Marion and the writers decided to spend an evening together and talk the thing over. Outside of Marion's getting a run in her stocking, they had such a very good time they forgot to talk shop at all. However, the evening bore fruit anyway. In the next script Nikki got a run in her sock and said things much in the same way that Marian might. Subsequent evening together brought similar gratifying results.

Marion and George Zachary, the radio series' producer, were secretly married on October 5, 1939, and Zachary made sure that Nikki was written out of the scripts during the weeks the newlyweds were off on their honeymoon. She played Nikki both opposite Hugh Marlowe and Carleton Young.

Playing Carol Carroll in Manhattan at Midnight (NBC-Blue, Aug 1940) Marion played a young stage performer who learns about dramatics and love from a dramatic critic.

In October 1941 she returned from Caribbean cruise with her husband, "almost completely recovered from injuries from recent spill from horse".  But it was only when, in 1942, Zachary left Ellery Queen to become the program chief for the radio bureau of the Office of War Information they acknowledged their marriage.
    Marion Shockley as Nikki PorterMarion Shockley (Nikki) opposite Carleton Young as Ellery Queen  in a photo for episode 92 "The Midnight Visitor" (1942).
Above left: Marion Shockley as Nikki Porter.
Above right: Marion Shockley (Nikki) opposite Carleton Young as Ellery Queen in a photo for episode 92 "The Midnight Visitor" (1942)
 Marion Shockley in Stage Door Canteen a 1943 American World War II film with some musical numbers and other entertainment interspersed with dramatic scenes by a largely unknown cast. "Marian" (sic) Shockley on the cover of "Radio Mirror" (May 1943).
Marion Shockley in Stage Door Canteen a 1943 American World War II film with some musical numbers and other entertainment interspersed with dramatic scenes by a largely unknown cast. Above right: Marian (sic) Shockley on the cover of Radio Mirror (May 1943).
 

In July 1943 she was reportedly "an expecting mother", however she and George were not blessed with a child.
Starting
September 1943 she was replaced for nine weeks because of "serious illness" on Ellery Queen by Helen Lewis.

She also had a movie role in Stage Door Canteen
(1943) and on radio she also had a roles in Mr. District Attorney,  We, the People, Abie Irish Rose (1942-44), The Adventures of the Falcon (1945), Road of Life (1945-47) en My True Story (-1946-).  

In 1945 Manfred B. Lee decided to break with the past on the Ellery Queen show and fire the actress who'd played Nikki for almost five years "...whose vacuity and lack of ability had caused the role to dwindle almost to the vanishing point." (Manny Lee, April 11. 1945) Her first marriage ended soon after the war and in 1946, in Maryland, she was remarried** to Clayton "Bud" Collyer.  (Jun 18. 1908 - Sep 8. 1969) the radio star who starred in Superman. Together they'd appeared in Road of Life and in the longest running soap The Guiding Light. They had a eighteen-hour honeymoon in Atlantic City since they both had to get back to New York for radio dates.

The couple settled down in the big stone house in Greenwich, Connecticut.

** Some sources claim they were married in 1948 on Bride and Groom, a radio audience participation show (from the West Coast). Not only are there several small newspaper reports that place the marriage around late 1946. Moreover, there are many interviews (Jan 1948) with the family in magazines in which this remarkable feat was never mentioned. The same arguments also disprove that other marriage date (June 14, 1952).

 
     In "Road of Life", Marion Shockley plays Carol Brent, seen here with her daughter Janie. Marion plays Dr. Jim's beautiful, petite wife. All her strenght of character and bitter experience are needed to make her marriage a success.Bud Collyere and his wife Marion Shockley in 1953.
Above left: In Road of Life, Marion Shockley plays Carol Brent, seen here with her daughter Janie. Marion plays Dr. Jim's beautiful, petite wife. All her strenght of character and bitter experience are needed to make her marriage a success. (Book Reader Image, 1952)
Above right: Bud Collyere and his wife Marion Shockley in 1953.
 
In the 50s they both made the transition to TV. Collyer as announcer both appearing on radio and TV. Marion who also appeared in the 1951 printed ads for Blue Bonnet margarine she did some work in television series such as The Big Story (Aug 4. 1950), Armstrong Circle Theatre (Feb 19. 1952) and The World of Mr. Sweeney (Jan 31. 1955). She also appeared in (Hallmark Hall of Fame:) The Other Wise Man airing 5 April 1953. She would retire from acting after these performances.
 
Marion Shockley and her husband Bud Collyere in 1961. 
Above: Marion Shockley with her husband Bud Collyere in 1961.

After her husband died (1969) she took up various humanitarian causes and at one time served on the board of The Spence-Chapin Adoption Agency.

Marion passed away Dec 14, 1981 in Los Angeles. 

 
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References
(1) Wikipedia
(2) IMDb

(3) Marian S. Collyer, an Actress And Widow of TV Personality NYT,
     Dec 18, 1981
(4) American Theatre: A Chronicle of Comedy and Drama, Gerald Bordman,
     1930-1969
(5) IBDB Marian Shockley credits
(6) OTRRPedia

(7) Radiogoldindex and Radiogoldindex
(8) RUSC
(9) Kappa Alpha Theta Journal, Vol.45 no.1 - November 1930

Additional video & audio sources
(1) Stars Tom Brown, Dorothy Layton, Marion Shilling, June Clyde and
     Marian Shockley complete a giant jigsaw puzzle at Universal City
     in California
 Short Movie, Mar 20, 1933


This actor profile is a part of Ellery Queen a website on deduction. The actor above played Nikki Porter in an Ellery Queen radio series. Click Uncle Sam if you think you can help out...!
Many of the profiles on this site have been compiled after very careful research of various sources. Please quote and cite ethically!


Page first published in 2010  
Latest update April 27. 2022
  

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