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Marie Marcus: 1914-2003
Marie Marcus

Born: May 25, 1914 in Roxbury, MA
Died: October 10, 2003 in Hyannis, MA

Jazz pianist, Waller protege

by Todd S. Jenkins
Copyright © 2005 Todd S. Jenkins

Pianist Marie Doherty Marcus, a protege of Fats Waller, died in Hyannis, Massachusetts, on October 10, 2003. She was 89 years old.

She was born Marie Eleanor Doherty in Roxbury, MA, on May 25, 1914. She started her piano studies at the age of four, and as a teenager became enthralled with Fats Waller after hearing some of his player-piano rolls. While still attending high school, she took on additional studies at New England Conservatory and played for children's radio shows. After graduation she found her way to Manhattan, where she played for national NBC Radio programs and finally met Waller, her primary inspiration. Under his tutelage she expanded her technique and began working on 52nd Street to good acclaim. She was capable of performing most any popular piano style from ragtime through the 1940s.

She spent several years working in New York, where she met her first husband, singer Jack Brown. In the late 1940s she returned to Massachusetts, taking on a residency at Falmouth's Coonamessett Club which lasted for forty years. She married her second husband, trumpeter/lawyer Bill Marcus, who died in 1965. Mrs. Marcus regularly gigged in Miami Beach, and she and Alma Gates White often performed as "the piano mamas" at Hyannis' Panama Club. In the 1950s she appeared on many TV shows, including those hosted by Steve Allen and Dave Garroway.

Marie Marcus is survived by two sons, Jack Brown, Jr. of Quincy, MA, and William Marcus of Ft. Lauderdale; two daughters, Mary Liles and Barbara Marcus, both of St. Peterburg, FL; eight grandchildren and 8 great-grandchildren.

Todd S. Jenkins
Todd S. Jenkins is a member of the JJA, author of Free Jazz and Free Improvisation: An Encyclopedia (Greenwood Press, 2004) and I Know What I Know: The Music of Charles Mingus (Praeger, 2006), and a contributor to Down Beat, All About Jazz, American Songwriter and Route 66 Magazine.


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