CICF News

CICF News / 2011 / July / News Post
July 12, 2011
MGM Showgirl Leaves $2M Gift

Marion Fenstermaker’s gift to The Indianapolis Foundation provides a fitting encore for her well-lived life. A star in many more ways than on stage and in the movies, Marion was a gold star philanthropist whose bequest will positively impact the Indianapolis community forever.

Marion Intermill Fenstermaker knew how to make good things happen, in both life and death. At the age of 16 in the early 1930s, Marion left her humble homestead in Louisville, Kentucky, bound for the exciting bright lights of New York City and a career in show business. What she may have lacked in training and experience, she more than made up for in talent, beauty, hard work and sheer determination. Before long, under the stage name of Marion Murray, she was modeling, dancing in chorus lines and appearing at the most prestigious clubs in New York, Florida, Rio de Janero, Beverly Hills, Cuba and London. Following appearances with entertainers such as Milton Berle, Vincente Minnelli, Beatrice Lillie and Bert Lahr, Marion became a contract performer with Metro Goldwyn Mayer, appearing with such stars as Gene Kelly, Judy Garland and Fred Astaire. Although Marion is listed in the film credits of The Pirate, one of her fondest memories was of dancing with Fred Astaire for a feature in the June 26, 1948 issue of Colliers.

Marion dancing with Fred Astaire
In 1948, Marion left the stage and married Howard A. Intermill, a founder of Indianapolis-based Herff-Jones Company. They lived and traveled happily together with Indianapolis as their home base until Howard’s death in1967.  In 1977, Marion married Indianapolis native Sidney E. Fenstermaker, Jr. firmly establishing Indianapolis as her hometown.

“Small but mighty” is one of the many complimentary phrases her stepdaughter Kitty Fenstermaker uses to describe Marion. At less than five feet tall with a tiny shoe size of four and a half, Marion nonetheless lived life large. She loved life and shared her joy and enthusiasm with all around her, including the children of Easter Seals Crossroads where Marion volunteered for thirty years.

Kitty Fenstermaker is not surprised that Marion left the residuum of her estate, nearly $2 million, to The Indianapolis Foundation to establish the Howard Intermill and Marion Intermill Fenstermaker Fund. Marion, Howard and Sidney believed in giving back and investing in the community where they lived. They also knew that The Indianapolis Foundation has a long track record of improving the quality of life in Indianapolis. Marion put no restrictions on the bequest, but asked that the board give consideration to the children at Crossroads. The first distribution from the Howard Intermill and Marion Intermill Fenstermaker Fund will allow Indianapolis area children to attend Crossroad’s 2009 summer camp.

Marion’s gift to The Indianapolis Foundation provides a fitting encore for her well-lived life. A star in many more ways than on stage and in the movies, Marion was a gold star philanthropist whose bequest will positively impact the Indianapolis community forever.