Marjorie Finlay

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Marjorie Finlay (Moehlenkamp)

Death: June 17, 2003 (74)
Reading, PA, United States
Immediate Family:

Daughter of Elmer Heinrich Moehlenkamp and Cora Lee Morrow
Wife of Robert Finlay
Mother of Private and Private
Sister of Jinny Humphrey

Occupation: Opera singer, television personality
Managed by: Geoffrey David Trowbridge
Last Updated:
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Immediate Family

About Marjorie Finlay

Marjorie Moehlenkamp Finlay (October 5, 1928 – June 1, 2003) was an American opera singer and television personality. A coloratura soprano, she performed concert, opera, and supper club singing. After winning a talent contest in 1950, Finlay toured on the ABC radio network show Music With the Girls. She later had her own television program and served as an MC for El Show Pan-Americano in Puerto Rico. Finlay toured in South America and released an album in Mexico. Her granddaughter, singer-songwriter Taylor Swift, credits her decision to pursue a musical career to her. Swift's brother, actor Austin Swift, is another of her grandchildren.

Marjorie Moehlenkamp was born on October 5, 1928 in Memphis, Tennessee to Elmer Henry Moehlenkamp of St. Charles, Missouri and Cora Lee Morrow of Arkansas.[1][2][3] She was raised in St. Charles. Three of her paternal great-grandparents were from Germany.[4]

During high school, Moehlenkamp trained under Pearl Walker, a music professor at Lindenwood College.[5] In 1948, Moehlenkamp performed at Mexico Senior High School as a soloist in the Lindenwood Vesper Choir.[6] She earned her Bachelor of Music from Lindenwood College in 1949.[5][7] Moehlenkamp was in Mu Phi Epsilon professional music fraternity.[8] She was a singer in the St. Louis Symphony Orchestra's pop concert at Kiel Auditorium.[9] In 1953, Moehlenkamp returned to Lindenwood to perform a concert.[5]

In 1950, Moehlenkamp was working as a receptionist at Boatmen's National Bank in St. Louis. She won a talent contest on the ABC network show Music With the Girls.[3] This awarded her a radio spot and she toured on the network radio show for 15 months.[5][3] During the summer of 1951, Moehlenkamp studied at the Berkshire Music Center and then in New York City on the advice of musician Edwin McArthur.[9][8]

After her marriage, Finlay and her husband moved to Havana, Cuba, where his office was located before relocating to Puerto Rico due to political unrest. They moved to Caracas before returning to Santurce with their children. In Puerto Rico, Finlay had her own television program and performed in concerts, operas, and supper clubs, including a two-week stint at the Caribe Hilton Hotel.[5][10]

Finlay was the mistress of ceremonies for El Show Pan-Americano on APA-TV in Santurce.[9][10] The show's format was similar to Tonight Starring Jack Paar, leading to Finlay being called the "Parr of Puerto Rico".[5] She was active in the Pro Arte Societies, a civic music organization. Her Spanish was reportedly "bad" enough to be funny to her audiences. Her television show ran six nights a week for 17 months.[9]

Finlay performed in several South American countries. She sang with the Puerto Rico Symphony Orchestra. She also released a LP record album in Mexico.[5]

In 1962, Finlay performed at a Kiel Auditorium Pop Concert. Her performance included "Fanciulla Sbocciato d l'amore" from La rondine and "Jewel song" in addition to pop songs.[11]

She married Robert Finlay, president of Raymond Construction Company, on March 22, 1952, in Palm Beach, Florida.[8][5] They had two daughters, including Andrea Gardner Finlay Swift.[5] Finlay died on June 1, 2003 in Reading, Pennsylvania.

Finlay was the maternal grandmother of singer-songwriter Taylor Swift and her brother, actor Austin Swift. Taylor cites Finlay for inspiring her to pursue a career in music.[2] In 2020, Taylor released the song "Marjorie" from her ninth studio album Evermore; Swift credited her grandmother with backing vocals which Taylor sampled.[2][14]

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Marjorie Finlay's Timeline

October 5, 1928
June 17, 2003
Age 74
Reading, PA, United States