Mary Martin birthplace
414 West Lee Avenue
Broadway legend Mary Martin (1913-1990) was born at this address – “a big, rambling house,” as she called it; it’s now a B&B – to a father who was a lawyer and a mother who taught violin. Martin attended elementary school right up the hill from the house. The family later moved to 314 West Oak Street. When Martin was an 18-year-old wife and mother, starving for meaningful work, her older sister encouraged her to open a dance school, and her supportive parents built her a studio at 311 West Oak. There she ran the popular “Mary Hagman’s School of Dance” for three years, serving several hundred students during that time.
While growing up in Weatherford, Martin was a tomboy who preferred “boxing gloves, punching bags, [and] bicycles” to the dolls her mother kept buying for her. An avid reader, she claimed to have read the lesbian classic The Well of Loneliness at age 11. (Not possible, since it wasn’t published in this country until 1928. She also claimed that she didn’t have “the remotest idea what [it was] all about.”)
Married twice, the first time at age 16, Martin left her first husband and young son (actor Larry Hagman) to pursue a career in Hollywood and on the stage. Her second husband, Richard Halliday, liked to shop for antiques with his mother and decorate their home and Martin’s various dressing rooms – you figure it out. Martin enjoyed a lifelong companionship with actress Janet Gaynor, whom she called her “closest, most special friend” and who was in a lavender marriage with costume designer Adrian. Martin’s intimate circle included other queer theater figures, such as Katharine Cornell and Alfred Lunt and Lynne Fontanne.
One of the greatest Broadway musical stars of all time, Martin created the roles of Maria Von Trapp and Nellie Forbush on the stage, but is probably best remembered for her portrayal of the boy who refused to grow up, Peter Pan. In the 1950s and ’60s, she flew into our living rooms in a televised taping of the stage play, singing such classics as “I Won’t Grow Up” and quickly becoming a lesbian icon. She epitomized the popular lesbian aesthetic of resistance to gender norms. In her honor, a statue of Peter Pan sits in front of the Weatherford Public Library. Martin is buried in the East Greenwood Cemetery in town.