Marcella Lorraine Gardiner, 70, theater actress, director

November 04, 1996|By Sheridan Lyons | Sheridan Lyons,SUN STAFF

Marcella Lorraine Gardiner, an amateur actress and director in local and regional theaters, died Friday of complications from a stroke at Windsor Ridge Nursing Home in Woodlawn. She was 70 and had lived at the home for the past eight years.

As a divorced mother of three, she was a rate clerk for the Chessie System railroad in Baltimore for 20 years and retired in 1986.

But her interest lay in the theater, beginning in 1959 with a supporting role in "Monique" with the Vagabond Players in Baltimore, followed by "The Reluctant Debutante" with the Chesapeake Players of Pasadena.

"She really enjoyed that experience and it stayed with her," said her daughter, Mary Bargteil of Millersville.

Mrs. Gardiner's last work in the theater was producing and directing plays for the Christian Youth Organization of St. William of York Roman Catholic Church. Among their productions were "Inherit the Wind" and "Spoon River Anthology."

She began a career in modeling in 1954 with the Walters Modeling Agency and appeared in advertisements in local publications such as Sun Magazine.

She performed in the South as Lani Leighton, with starring roles in "Send Me No Flowers" and "The Best Man" with the St. Petersburg (Fla.) Little Theatre, where she also directed.

In Alabama, she worked with the Huntsville Little Theatre, directing "Jenny Kissed Me" and starring in "All the King's Men." She won a local award, the Hultee, in 1966 as best actress for her performance in "Auntie Mame."

Born in Baltimore, the former Lorraine Ward left high school in 1942 to marry the first of four husbands, Daniel Brick, who died soon after their marriage. Several years later, she was briefly married to Nelson Leggette, now living in North Carolina.

In 1949, she married Joseph Gardiner, now of Taneytown. The couple divorced after 10 years.

In 1960, she married Russell Leighton, now of Texas. The couple moved in 1962 to St. Petersburg, then in 1964 to Huntsville, Ala. After their divorce, Mrs. Gardiner returned to Baltimore in 1966.

A funeral will be at 10: 30 a.m. tomorrow at Ambrose Funeral Home, 1328 Sulphur Spring Road in Arbutus.

Other survivors include two sons, Michael Gardiner of Reisterstown and David Gardiner of Downingtown, Pa.; a brother, Ronald Ward of Severna Park; and four grandchildren.

Pub Date: 11/04/96

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