Saturday, December 12, 2009

Who Was Marina Marshal?

This is one of those really frustrating collections. Clearly this woman had some level of success in the theater, but I'm unable to get any real information on her. The two photos that appear to be the oldest, show her in a train compartment. On the back is written, "Mary Shuck Arnahenstr 15/I Muenchen." Checking I found a listing for a film from 1937, Die Stimme des Herzens, with a Mary Shuk as a cast member in a very small part. The film was produced by Bavaria Films, and of course, Munich is in Bavaria. And that's as close as I've come to any real info, and it might not even be the same person. Most of these photos have German language stamps on the backs. There are some images of Marina Marshal AKA Mary Shuck where she is wearing a pin striped pants outfit that are stamped "Copyright Presse J Hustrationen ( ) Berlin SW G8, Kochstrasse 10 Tel. 19 6508-3" On the back of the one where she is standing in a group and shaking hands has, hand written on the back, and in English, "Marina Marshal as Diana in "French Without Tears" 49 West 11th St. NYC Gramercy 5-9259." French Without Tears was written by Terrance Rattigan and first produced in the late 1930's. The photo where she is sitting in the Tuxedo wearing gentleman's lap has, hand written on the back, "Marina Marshal in The Circle by Somerset Maugham" with the same address and telephone number. Also a sticker that reads, "THE CREDIT LINE MUST NOT BE OMITTED ALTERED OR ABBREVIATED ATLAS PHOTOS This photograph is released for one reproduction only and must not be used for trade or advertising purposes, copied, loaned, or syndicated without written permission. ATLAS PHOTOS 45 WEST 46TH ST. NEW YORK CITY" I did find The Circle on from a 1937-38 Broadway production, but Marina Marshal is not listed in the credits, and in any case, it seems she was still in Germany at the time. Most of the other theatrical pictures have stamped on the back, "Foto-Schreyer, Berlin -Steglitz Zimmermannstr. 12, Telephon G2 Steglitz 1243" On the shot of her standing, wearing furs, stamped on the back of the picture, "VERVIELFALTIGUNG NUR MIT ANGABE ANTON SAHM MUNCHEN COPYRIGHT BY ANTON SAHM, MUNCHEN." Sahm was a successful German studio photographer. I've found a nude by him, entitled "Sitzender Akt" dated 1925 that has a resemblance, though as a profile it's hard to be certain, of Marina. Written on the back of the photo of Marina in the long dress, with her leaning on a cabinet, hand written on the back, "Marina Marshal 127 W. 52nd St. NYC CO5-8981. Size 12 wt. 115 Ht 5'8" Reddish brown hair. Grey-green eyes." So, it seems that a German actress, with a fairly successful career on the German stage ended up in the United States, possibly before or after the Second World War. With no credits on either imdb or ibdb, at least not under the name Marina Marshal, it doesn't look like she had much luck in the United States. And did the name change come before or after she ended up in America? Lots of questions, and no answers.


  1. Who was Marina Marshall? (Part 1):

    Marina Marshall was the stage name of Mary R. Shuck who was born in Shenandoah, Pennsylvania, on February 8, 1905. Her parents were John and Catherine Shuck. In September 1936, she went to Germany to study at the Academy of Music in Munich. She lived frugally and supported herself by modeling as well as with money from her parents. Financial support from her parents was meager as they did not approve of her living in Germany at the time.

    After meeting Jacques Feder, a motion picture company director in Munich, she was cast in small American parts in two 1937 films, one of which was with the famous opera singer, Gela. Due to her father’s death, Mary returned briefly to the United States in 1938. When it became known that she was not included in her father’s will, Mary received around $500 from the generosity of relatives.

  2. Who was Marina Marshal? (Part 2):

    Influenced by Feder, she moved to Berlin in the summer of 1938 where she took on the stage name of Marina Marshall and joined the Troupe of English Players, a small group led by Edward P. Melotte that produced plays in the English language in Berlin. She played the leading role in “French Without Tears,” Maxwell Anderson’s “Marie Stuart,” and George Bernard Shaw’s “Millionairess.” Mary joined a German choir, sung on commercial programs as well as broadcast Shakespearean plays over Berlin radio, and had the distinction of being the only American enrolled in Hitler’s State Theaters which was a training school for young actors and actresses supported under the German state. As all theaters were under the control of the German government, all actors had to enroll to be given jobs.

    It was during the production of “Millionairess” when Mary Shuck met Prince Nicholas Wladimirovitch Orloff, a Russian aristocrat descended from the Orloff’s of the Catherine the Great era. Apparently, the actor cast as the Egyptian doctor in the play was a no-show, and Edward Melotte met Nicholas Orloff, who was currently employed as a journalist and writer, at a Berlin bar. Despite never having acted before, Orloff was cast in the play due to his command of the English language along with the fact that he looked the part. Mary and Nicholas Orloff fell in love during rehearsals and decided to marry, but a wrinkle in this plan was that Prince Orloff was still married to Princess Nadejda Petrovna of Russia.

  3. Who was Marina Marshal? (Part 3):

    When Berlin was subjected to bombing after the British entered the war against Germany, Mary convinced Nicholas Orloff to leave the country for Vienna where they were able to obtain visas for Yugoslavia. The couple resided in Belgrade while Orloff’s divorce proceedings were pending. On February 16, 1940, Orloff’s divorce was finalized, and on February 22, 1940, Mary Shuck and Prince Nicholas Orloff were married at the Russian Holy Trinity Church in Belgrade and were issued a marriage certificate by the American Consular Service in Belgrade that was signed by American Counsul Robert A. Macatee.

    Mary Shuck took on the name of Marina (but also went by Mary) Orloff, and the couple came to the United States on the S.S. Excalibur. They set up residence in New York City where they both worked on obtaining employment. Mary Orloff attempted to find work on the stage and radio without success. She proceeded to sell cosmetics from Dermetics, Inc., on commission from her home and worked as a sales clerk at Tailored Women from December 1940 to January 1941. In February 1941, she was employed as a sales clerk for the Jane Engel, Inc., dress shop, and in May 1941, she was employed as a social secretary at the Hotel Sherry Netherlands for several months. In April 1944, she worked as a model in the art department at Macy’s Department Store.

    Prince Orloff unsuccessfully attempted to find work with the Office of Strategic Services, the Department of State, and the New York Times. After various jobs which included being a translator for a Russian sculpture artist, a social secretary for a wealthy Yugoslavian woman, and a sales clerk at the La Veille Russia jewelry store, Orloff was able to find work at the United Nations where over time he achieved the position of Chief Translator.

  4. Who was Marina Marshal? (Part 4):

    As far back as 1940, the Federal Bureau of Investigation opened an investigation on Prince Orloff as to whether he was the personality known as Lord Haw Haw, a pro-German propagandist whose radio broadcasts aimed to demoralize the British and anti-German resistance throughout World War II. The investigation eventually switched course in the mid-1940’s through the 1950’s as Orloff was suspected of working with the Soviets to recruit former Russian nationals within the United States as potential spies for Soviet intelligence and the KGB.

    In their investigation, the FBI concluded that Mary Orloff was a patriotic American and that if they confronted her husband with Mary in the same room, the intense pressure of the situation might force him to confess his affiliation with the Soviets. The FBI did have a considerable amount of evidence from various sources confirming that Nicholas Orloff had assisted the Soviets for a period in the past, but upon questioning, he denied any involvement and Mary was adamant that her husband was not a spy.

  5. Who was Marina Marshal? (Part 5 of 5):

    The investigation eventually closed when Nicholas Orloff died of a heart attack in May 1961 at his home on Oyster Bay, Long Island. Mary Orloff continued to live for another eight years until she died of cancer at the Jefferson Hospital in Philadelphia on January 11, 1969 at the age of 63. She was interred at a memorial cemetery at Cold Spring Harbor, New York. She was survived by her brother, Dr. Benjamin E. Shuck, and a sister, Mrs. Adele Brunell.

    [Information about Mary Shuck was taken from FBI case file 65-HQ-9521 pertaining to the investigation of Prince Nicholas Wladimirovitch Orloff, which is located at the National Archives and Records Administration in College Park, Maryland (Record Group 65, Record Entry 347753 (UD-UP 138, Boxes 337-338). A digitized copy is available for purchase or to view for free upon visiting the facility with advance notice. Specifically, serials 7, 8, and 29 from the case file contain the bulk of background information on Mary Shuck. Reports regarding FBI’s questioning of Nicholas Orloff with Mary Orloff in the same room found in Section 7 of the file. Documentation regarding Mary Shuck’s marriage to Prince Orloff can be found at the National Archives at College Park in RG 59, A1 Entry 3001. The document in particular has been digitized by and can be viewed on their website along with copies of New York Times obituaries for Prince Nicholas and Princess Marina Orloff.]

  6. For those that are interested, Selkirk Auctioneers and Appraisers in St. Louis, MO. has a collection of Family Photos from Prince Orloff and his Wife, Mary Orloff. They will be up for bid in Auction on 5/20 in our Spring Gallery Auction! Please follow the Link bellow to view the items. They are all in Lot 255 together with an Italian Painting of the Orloff Family.

    We have a number of items from Prince Orloff's collection, which will be Lots 254-259 for this Saturday's Auction!