MARJORIE HENSHAW AKA ANABEL SHAW
24 June 1921 – 16 April 2010
Marjorie Henshaw, actress and writer, died on 16 April 2010 after a valiant effort to keep Triple Negative Breast cancer at bay. A long time Los Angeleno, and born Marjorie Henshaw, part of long established line of Californians, she graduated from Cal in 1943 and went into a vibrant career in acting before marrying and beginning an academic life and family. Throughout her years, she transformed adversity with a positive attitude and always stayed in the moment.
With deep California roots, Marjorie’s childhood centered in Los Angeles of the 20s and 30s. Her family was on the forefront of these developments involved with lumber (her mother’s grandfather founded Mendocino), land (her father’s grandfather owned major holdings in the Owens Valley), and water (her mother’s father established Lake Almanor now at the head waters of the Feather River project that delivers water to southern California). She graduated from Marlborough High School, was a debutante of the Mary Duque Guild, said she knew nothing of the depression, and was listed in the Blue Book.
With Hollywood screen tests, photo shoots, and an option with Warner Brothers, she was represented by the famous William Morris Agency. Marjorie Henshaw was billed as Anabel Shaw for her acting career. She landed a contract with Fox where she was impressed with the glamor of the sets, the extent of the city within the city, and the commissary meeting place for the stars. Her films, now best classed as Film Noir, show a vivid actress with immense talent and love for the screen. Her mother, Elinore Earl Henshaw, was a great support for her in her career move, but her father, Ransom Henshaw, professed that he never saw any of her films.
As Anabel Shaw, she enjoyed acting and played many lead roles. Memorable movies include Shock with Vincent Price, Secret Beyond the Door with Michael Redgrave, In This Corner with Scott Brady, Gun Crazy with Peggy Cummings and John Dall, and Dangerous Years where Marilyn Monroe is not billed but Anabel Shaw is! Our favorite is Killer at Large with Bob Lowery where she steals every scene.
As her film career ascended, Marjorie’s life took a turn and in December 1948 she married. While still acting, this attenuated as she became occupied with her growing family and living abroad. The wife of sociologist Joseph B. Ford, founder of CSUNs Sociology and Anthropology Departments, and mother of three young children Anabel, Cecilia, and Stephen, she was busy making her home.
In this phase of life, Marjorie experienced the “Old World” her mother and grandmother recollected, experiences that she wrote in her book Quintet in Asia Minor (2010). Her rich descriptions of travel in the 50s and 60s were guided by her attachment to Gardener’s Art Through the Ages and Joe’s interest in the far-flung residences of Augustus Comte, the founder of Sociology. In her foreign homes and travels, Margie managed the domestic scene with aplomb. Relishing the experience of Europe and the Middle East, she thrilled at the exposure to ancient cave sites, Roman ruins, medieval cathedrals, and contemporary markets.
While traveling, she was tethered to So. California where she maintained her acting interests. She made occasional appearances on TV and in movies. And remember Lux Soap that the movie stats used? She received a box every month and of course would use it.
As she adjusted to the changing landscape delivered by Joe Ford she provided a stable foundation for the family. She supported her children as the moved into their worlds. But as they went their own ways, Margie was no longer within the quintet she had thrived in. Her facility to live in the moment compelled change. Courageously she struck out on her when she was 64.
Friends and family supported her in this transition. Soon the widow of her first cousin courted her. George-Hap-Skopecek help her start a new phase of her life in Oakland in 1988 when she married. Hap, a man she had know much of her life, idolized for her creative beauty and gave her much pleasure and fun.
Living in Oakland was, in some ways, coming home. Margie rekindled old friendships, became involved in the Oakland Museum, and acted in plays at the Claremont Club. But then there was the fire and the death of Hap. She regrouped and moved to Santa Barbara in 1992.
Santa Barbara was a natural choice, her eldest daughter Anabel was there with her husband Michael Glassow. Her second child, Cecilia lived in Madison with her partner Donna Dallos. Stephen Ford, her third child, made San Diego his home with his wife Linda and two children; Elinore, 10, and Tyler, 5, were Marjorie’s treasured grandchildren.
Her life in Santa Barbara centered around her delightful home on Miradero. She lived singularly and shared her hospitality with old contacts, new friends, and of course her family. As a septuagenarian, Margie spread her wings. She decorated her home in style, got to know her neighbors, and made friend rapidly, easily, and everywhere. She participated in festivities, the symphony, and thematic soirées. She also enjoyed travel and visits with her children. Exploring Michigan and Mendocino with Steve and his family, traveling to Japan and Finland with Ceci, and taking in sights of Ireland and Austria with Anabel and her husband Mike. In short she thrived.
One of a kind Marjorie engaged with all who are genuine and eschewed those who were charlatan. Her spirit was open and cheerful, a model to us all.