Marj Dusay, actress, mother, grande dame of life and homegrown daughter of Russell, Kansas died peacefully of natural causes on January 28, 2020 at her home in New York City. She was 83.
Ms. Dusay, known for her sharp wit, sophistication, and beauty, had a long career in the public eye that began with modeling work in her native Kansas. Eventually her innate elegance and smile propelled her into the pages and onto the covers of magazines in New York, San Francisco, and Los Angeles, where she moved upon discovering her love of performance. She went on to a long and successful career as an actress. From the 60’s television programs, “Star Trek”, “Bonanza”, “The Wild, Wild West,” “Get Smart,” and “Hogan’s Heroes” thru the 80’s and 90’s Marj performed on many of the best shows on television. Among others, shows like “Mannix,” “The FBI,” “Barnaby Jones,” “Fresh Prince of Bel Air,” and “The Odd Couple”. Marj was a series regular on “Bret Maverick” with James Garner. She recurred for six seasons on “The Facts of Life” as Blair’s mother, Monica Warner, which garnered her two Emmy nominations. It was during her last two years on that show that she simultaneously began working in daytime television on the soap opera “Capitol.” When daytime television discovered her it provided a template for 25 years of future roles as glamorous, ambitious, and sometimes treacherous divas on several long-running soaps: “Santa Barbara,” “All My Children,” and “Guiding Light.”
Marj Dusay was born Marjorie Ellen Mahoney on February 20, 1936, in Hays, Kansas, and was raised in Russell, Kansas. She had a wonderful childhood with her brothers and sisters and was a gifted equestrian spending many hours riding and training the family’s horses. In high school she excelled in debate and sports; at the University of Kansas she performed in plays and was named Homecoming Queen.
In 1956 she married her high school sweetheart, John Dusay (also from Russell). The couple first lived in New York then settled in San Francisco. When they divorced in 1965, Marj relocated with their children, Debra and Randall, to Los Angeles. She later married Thomas Perine in 1972 and they remained married until Mr. Perine’s death in 1987.
Ms. Dusay moved to New York City in 1993 to assume a role on a television series and remained living there until her death. She was predeceased by her son, Randall; her parent’s, Joseph and Marie Mahoney; and her brothers John and Joseph Mahoney. Her sister, Mary Ann Mahoney followed her in passing on February 17, 2020 (just 19 days later – they were that close). She is survived by her daughter, Debra Dusay Blocker; her son-in-law, David Blocker; her granddaughter, Deena Blocker; and her siblings, Kathleen Dunn, and Timothy Mahoney, along with numerous nieces and nephews. She will be missed by all and was loved by everyone.
Marj was blessed with an abundance of talent, wit and humor, all the while retaining her down-home roots as a wise and kind woman, loving and dedicated mother and friend. A Memorial Service will be held at 11:00 AM, Saturday, September 18, 2021 at the St. Mary’s Catholic Cemetery in Russell, Kansas. Condolences may be sent to Pohlman-Varner-Peeler Mortuary, who is in charge of these arrangements.