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Marion Ross was born on October 25, 1928 in the small Minnesota town of Albert Lea. At the young age of 13, she changed the spelling of her name from "Marian" to "Marion" because she thought it would look better on a marquee. A few years later, the Ross family moved to San Diego, California, and Marion enrolled in San Diego State College.
As a freshman, Ross was named the school's most outstanding actress. She kept busy in many college plays until her graduation in 1950. Then she performed in summer theater in La Jolla, California. The director was quite impressed by her talent, and urged her to give Hollywood a shot. With the assistance of an old college professor, Ross worked her way into a contract for Paramount.
In 1953, Ross made her big-screen debut in "Forever Female," where she appeared with Ginger Rogers. A steady stream of film work followed, including parts in "The Glenn Miller Story" (1954), "Sabrina" (1954), and "Operation Petticoat" (1959). But she was not destined for big-screen success; television would prove to be her medium.
Ross' fame on the small screen began in 1953 when she played the Irish maid on the series "Life With Father" for two years. Her list of credits spans the history of classic TV, from "The Burns and Allen Show" to "Love Boat" and "Night Court." In 1991 she starred as Jewish grandma Sophie Berger in the critically acclaimed series "Brooklyn Bridge." Marion Ross' prolific television career includes an exhaustive 400-plus appearances on different shows, in addition to her long-running role as Mrs. Cunningham on "Happy Days."