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Marjorie Guthrie

The daughter of poet Aliza Greenblatt, wife of singer Woody Guthrie, and mother of singer Arlo Guthrie, Marjorie Guthrie became formidable in her own right as an activist for Huntington’s Disease and other genetic and neurological diseases. Guthrie studied dance with Martha Graham, starred in some of Graham’s first ensembles, and became the first member of the group to teach Graham’s technique. In 1950 Guthrie established a dance school in Brooklyn. Guthrie married five times, but it was her second marriage, to Woody Guthrie, that would shape her life. After the singer was diagnosed with Huntington’s, she divorced him in 1952 so the state would be responsible for his medical expenses while she worked to support their four children. In 1956 she founded the Woody Guthrie Children’s Fund. After Woody’s death in 1967, Marjorie Guthrie devoted herself to advocacy, fundraising, and research for Huntington’s Disease. She earned an appointment to the Advisory Council of the National Institute of General Medical Sciences from 1973–1977 and was elected to a number of prestigious scientific societies. Her work led to the discovery of the genetic marker for Huntington’s. After her death, leading scientists established a lecture series at the NIH in her honor.

Date of Birth
October 6, 1917
Place of Birth
Atlantic City, New Jersey
Date of Death
March 13, 1983

How to cite this page

Jewish Women's Archive. "Marjorie Guthrie." (Viewed on January 18, 2018) <>.


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