Martha Raye

The Big Mouth
Birth Name:
Margaret Yvonne Teresa Reed
Birth Date:
August 27, 1916
Birth Place:
Butte, Montana
Death Date:
October 19, 1994 (aged 78)
Place of Death:
Cedars-Sinai Medical Center, Los Angeles, California
Cause of Death:
Aspiration and Pneumonia
Cemetery Name:
Fort Liberty Main Post Cemetery
Claim to Fame:
Show Business
Martha Raye, nicknamed The Big Mouth, was an American comedic actress and singer who performed in the stage, in the movies and later on television. While she might be best remembered for those annoying television commercials for Polident denture cleanser in the 1970s and 1980s, she actually had quite the remarkable career over her 5 decades in show business. In 1936, she was signed for comic roles by Paramount Pictures and her first feature film was Rhythm on the Range with Bing Crosby. Over the next 25 years she starred opposite such A-list comedians including Joe E. Brown, Bob Hope, W.C. Fields, Abbott and Costello, Charlie Chaplin and Jimmy Durante. She was a television star very early in its history. She starred in the short-lived (28 episodes) The Martha Raye Show (1954–1956), opposite retired middleweight boxer Rocky Graziano, who played her boyfriend. She went on and appeared in numerous T.V. series including Alice, Murder She Wrote, The Andy Williams Show and McMillan and Wife. During her last 5 years she suffered from difficult health issues including circulator issues (which resulted in the amputation both legs below the knee) and several strokes. Raye died at age 78 of aspiration and pneumonia.

Fun Facts

Martha Raye may have been lucky in her career but here love life was anything but. Married 7 times to a variety of men, her most memorable marriage has to be to husband #7 Mark Harris. As the Washington Post once described Mr. Harris, “…the fame-obsessed, pinkie-ringed, lipo-suctioned bisexual Mark Harris has been known to prey on older, wealthy divas with equal parts devotion and disdain.” But hey, who are we to judge?

You are probably wondering why Martha Raye is buried in a military cemetery in North Carolina. Appreciation of her work with the USO during World War II and subsequent wars led to her being named both an honorary colonel in the U.S. Marines and an honorary lieutenant colonel in the U.S. Army, and earned special consideration to be buried in Arlington National Cemetery. Upon her death it was instead requested that she be buried with full military honors in the Fort Liberty (then Fort Bragg) Main Post cemetery at Spring Lake, North Carolina, home of her loving and beloved United States Army Special Forces; the Fifth Special Forces Group (Airborne) made her an honorary Green Beret for her USO work in Vietnam.

Cemetery Information:

Final Resting Place:

Fort Liberty Main Post Cemetery

Watson Street

Spring Lake, North Carolina, 28390


North America


Map Fort Liberty Main Post Cemetery in North Carolina
Map Fort Liberty Main Post Cemetery in North Carolina

Grave Location:

Section 1, Row 28, Grave 780-B

Grave Location Description

Turn left onto Watson Street and then turn right into the second gravel road / parking lot. From the parking lot count 8 rows into Section 1 and then turn right until you find the final resting place of actress Martha Raye.

Grave Location GPS

35.152725, -78.964046



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