Marjorie Lane, singer at MGM, dies at 100

Provided singing voice for Eleanor Powell in 1930s musicals

Marjorie Lane Bates, best known for providing the singing for dancer-actress Eleanor Powell in MGM musicals including “Broadway Melody 1936,” “Rosalie” and “Broadway Melody 1938,” died Oct. 2 in Santa Monica. She was 100.

In 1935, 23-year-old Marjorie Lane left Kansas for Hollywood to pursue her dream of becoming a famous singer despite having no formal training. Soon after her arrival, Lane was singing at the famous nightclub the Trocadero, interpreting the music of the greatest songwriters of the day, including her favorite, Cole Porter. MGM studio boss Louis B. Mayer spotted Marjorie at the Troc, and she was soon signed to a contract at MGM.

For MGM musical “Rosalie,” Lane provided Powell’s voice in scenes including a duet with the young Jimmy Stewart singing Porter’s “Easy to Love.” When Lane married the actor Brian Donlevy, Powell was her maid of honor.

She continued to work at MGM, in nightclubs and on the radio, living with Donlevy in the Malibu Colony. Her friends included Clark Gable, Tyrone Power, Carole Lombard and Ronald Reagan.

The Donlevys divorced in 1947 after 11 years of marriage. Marjorie was subsequently married to businessman Sumner Bates until his death from Alzheimer’s Disease.

She is survived by a daughter, Judith Ann Donlevy.

Donations may be made to the Alzheimer’s Assn. at http://act.alz.org/goto/marjoriebates

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