Martyn Green: Mangled His Member Over Morris Garages


No, not THAT member! Get your mind out of the gutter! A member is any constituent part of a whole. The noun applies to all limbs and natural protuberances on any creature, and today I regret to inform you that we refer to a leg. But we’ll get to that.

Martyn Green (William Martin Green, 1899-1975) was a musical theatre performer, best known for his interpretations of Gilbert and Sullivan roles with the legendary D’Oyly Carte Opera Company and others. Born in London, he was a second generation singer and studied at the Royal College of Music. His stage career was sort of bookended by service in both World Wars. Though he was based in England through the early 1950s, he periodically came to the U.S. to perform in G & S. productions starting in the 1930s. It was on the last such junket that he opted to remain in the States. At this point he became more diversified. He played Bob Cratchit, for example in a 1956 adaptation of A Christmas Carol called The Stingiest Man in Town. Most of his American credits were in television, where there was demand for his services as a stereotypical Englishman, not unlike Arthur Treacher. He was also in the original Broadway production of Gore Vidal’s Visit to a Small Planet (1957-1958), later made into a Jerry Lewis movie, of all things.

Then in 1959, tragedy struck, though it could have been worse. Green didn’t trust parking attendants to drive his M.G. sports car, so he decided to operate a parking garage elevator on his own. Somehow he managed to mangle his leg, which had to be amputated — in situ — below the knee. The chap who performed the operation was a veteran English army nurse who’d done service in India. True story!

But this did not keep Martyn Green down! In 1960, he directed the famous tv version of The Mikado, starring Groucho Marx as Ko-Ko. And he continued to act and direct on On Broadway, and on television and films for the remainder of his life. Broadway credits included Canterbury Tales (1969), a revival of Charley’s Aunt (1970), and The Incomparable Max (1971). Films included A Lovely Way to Die (1968) and The Iceman Cometh (1973).

I happened to learn of this interesting gent because he had performed at L.A.’s Mayfair Music Hall, which we wrote about here.