This Little Light of Mine, I’m Gonna Let It Shine!
Marietta Cox Marich was born into the theatre. Her parents, Etta Mae Lenhart and William Ousley Cox, were married on stage at the Dallas Majestic Theatre between shows. Etta was an accomplished costumer and wardrobe mistress, and Bill was a gifted actor, comedian, aerial artist, and gymnast, performing across the country in vaudeville and other shows. Later Bill moved behind the scenes. He was a charter member of Local #127 of IATSE, and celebrated his 50-year Golden Anniversary with the union.
April 5, 1930, Marietta was born in Dallas, and was working professionally in radio and on stage by age 5. As a singer, she was billed as “The Little Girl with the Big Voice,” and often performed “Me and My Shadow” with Ted Lewis. She appeared in countless Dallas Summer Musicals and plays, had her own professional radio show, and sang with the best musicians in Texas, all while still a teenager.
Marietta was a true Renaissance woman. In addition to the phenomenal acting, singing, and directing for which she is most well-known, she was an accomplished painter, playwright, songwriter, and set designer, being the only female student in her drafting class at SMU. Marietta’s career spanned over 82 years.
Marietta and Bob met at KPRC (which they helped launch) and married in Houston. While Bob produced and directed at the station, Marietta sang and toured with the Tommy Dorsey Orchestra. After success in Los Angeles, the pair moved back to Houston, where they became theatre and television mainstays. Her KPRC hit show, “Midnight with Marietta,” featured Marietta singing and the incomparable talents of Paul Schmitt and his band. Marietta also interviewed a sophisticated array of guests each night. An avid reader, she could discuss almost any subject with intelligence and vivacious wit.
Marietta created the legendary Houston Theatre Center and with husband Bob produced and performed in many of the productions. They also owned and operated several other theatres. Marietta constantly mentored young artists, giving many their first break. Some careers she helped launch are those of Tommy Tune, Dennis Quaid, JoBeth Williams, Patrick Swayze, Tracy Shayne, Robert Wuhl, K.T. Oslin, Gina Hecht, Cindy Pickett, Brett Cullen, and Sally Mayes. Marietta’s last stage performance was in early 2017, when she appeared with her daughter, Allison, in “Outside Mullingar” at the Queensbury Theatre. Film audiences know her work with Clint Eastwood, Steve Martin, Naomi Watts, Kevin Costner, Bill Murray, Mary Steenburgen, Josh Brolin, Jennifer Aniston, Sally Field, and many others.
The entire Marich family are actors, a Houston Royal Family of the Theatre. Marietta was deeply beloved by her family, who admired her razor-sharp humor, keen intelligence, blunt honesty, strength, and tenacity. She often said, “Never show a fool your unfinished work,” and, “I may not always be right – but I’m never wrong!” Marietta was predeceased by her husband of almost 60 years, Bob, and son Michael. She is survived by daughter Allison, grandchildren Skyler and Spencer, and many relatives.
Marietta loved flowers and years ago said that she wanted her obituary to read, “In lieu of donations, please send flowers." The family also appreciates contributions in her memory to the Alley Theatre recovery effort or the Queensbury Theatre.
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