She was Youngstown’s Julia Child or Martha Stewart. She was one of the pioneering women in local television, with her daily show running from 1953 to 1967 on WFMJ, channel 21. She also had a weekly recipe column in the Youngstown Vindicator. I recall listening to her on the radio on WFMJ – 1390 and that people could call in for cooking advice.
Marjorie, or Marge, Mariner was born in Youngstown in 1903. A 1957 article from The Radio TV Mirror gives us the fullest portrait of her life. She said her only ambition “was to get married.” She grew up with a mother who spoke, sharing poetry and who sometimes lifted her up to look over the podium and speak them. She also baked her first cake when she was seven years old. She went to Ohio State to study home economics and nutrition, and returned to Youngstown, teaching school for five years.
Before going off to college, she had dated Minola Mariner and then met up again after college, marrying her first love. He was a civil engineer working in construction. The couple had two children, a son Joseph, and a daughter Janis. A brief note in the October 19, 1953 issue of Broadcasting + Telecasting indicates that the Simon, Williams, and Roberts Advertising Agency had signed Marjorie Mariner for a client, Century Foods, to do a program for WFMJ. At the beginning, it started as a five minute daily show. Eventually the show, named Kitchen Corner expanded to 45 minutes. The Radio TV Mirror article describes the format of the program:
On Kitchen Corner, seen each weekday from 1:15 to 1:45 P.M., she encourages a love for cooking and an awareness of better food habits for better health. “And sharing of recipes,” says Marjorie, “is just like visiting over the back fence.” Each day, her “visit” is different.
Monday, it’s seasonal cooking ideas; Tuesday’s the day for club ideas; Thursday, for special diets. On Wednesday and Friday, she invites a guest homemaker to prepare her favorite recipe.
One of the distinctive features of her show was the local “homemakers of the day” that she featured. The February 25, 1966 issue of the New Castle News includes an article about two New Castle women who were going to be on the show. Sandra Zona was the Arts and Crafts guest and Nellie Powers was going to share her brownie recipe. A 2017 Metro Monthly article by Elizabeth Glasgow, a great niece of Mariner’s, describes her aunts, cousins, and her five year old self gathered around a table with ham sandwiches and punch on one of the shows. Another blogger, Diane Laney Fitzpatrick, describes one of the shows:
On Kitchen Corner With Marjorie Mariner (which we knew simply as the Marge Mariner show), Marge would stand there behind the counter with all of her ingredients already measured out. This alone fascinated me. Not only did she have everything pre-measured out, she had it in these tiny sparkling, clear glass bowls and clear glass measuring cups. Even 1/4 teaspoon allspice or 1/2 teaspoon salt were measured into tiny little glass bowls, like Barbie-sized bowls.
So it would take Marge less than 10 minutes to throw the whole kit and kaboodle into a large mixing bowl (again, clean clear glass, no raw hamburger residue or dried-on cookie batter from the last thing she made), mix that up, pop it in the oven, and be done with it. She hardly broke a sweat.
She was featured in an ad for local TV personalities in the November 25, 1957 issue of Billboard magazine where it was noted that a sixty second commercial usually received another sixty second personal endorsement from Mariner. At that time, she had already won three TV Guide awards as one of the top national cooking shows.
The Radio TV Mirror article from 1957 says that at that time, the family owned a remodeled farmhouse with 10 acres and three dogs. Her TV program ended in 1967. I believe she continued to do radio shows after that time. Her husband, Minola passed away in 1987 and she died in 1995. Both are buried in the Coitsville Presbyterian-Jackson Cemetery.
In Youngstown, you often learned to cook well from a mother or grandmother. Marjorie didn’t replace them, but rather featured them while sharing her own down-to-earth love of cooking. As one woman put it,”She’s not too smart and we can understand her and how she loves to cook — just like us.”