Marian Marsh (October 17, 1913 – November 9, 2006) was an American film actress, and later, environmentalist.
Born on October 17, 1913 in Trinidad, British West Indies (now Trinidad and Tobago), the youngest of four children of a German chocolate manufacturer and his French-English wife.
Due to World War I, Violet’s father moved his family to Boston, Massachusetts. By the time Violet was ten, the family had relocated to California where Violet’s older sister, an actress who went by the name of Jean Fenwick, eventually landed a job as a contract player with FBO Studios.
In 1931, Marsh landed one of her most important roles in Svengali opposite John Barrymore. Marsh was chosen by Barrymore, himself, for the role of “Trilby”. Barrymore coached her performance throughout the picture’s filming. Svengali was based on the 1894 novel Trilby written by George du Maurier. A popular play, likewise entitled Trilby, followed in 1895. In the film version, which Warner Bros. had retitled Svengali, Marsh plays the artists’ model Trilby, who is transformed into a great opera star by the sinister hypnotist, Svengali. The word “Svengali’” has entered the English language, defining a person who, with sometimes evil intent, tries to persuade another to do what he desires.
Marsh was selected as one of the WAMPAS Baby Stars of 1931. And, with the critical praise and the audience’s approval of Svengali, she continued in a string of successful films for Warner Bros. including Five Star Final (1931) with Edward G. Robinson, The Mad Genius (1931) with Barrymore, The Road to Singapore (1931) with William Powell, Beauty and the Boss (1932) with Warren William, and Under 18 (again with William).