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Monday, December 10, 2018

Comics: Searching for Marion McDermott

Marion Helen McDermott was an editor at comics publisher St. John Publications from the late 1940s to around 1955. The Grand Comics Database has McDermott’s credits starting in 1949 while Who’s Who of American Comic Books 1928–1999 has 1947. St. John Publications was started by Archer Anthony St. John.

St. John was born October 15, 1904 (Cook County, Illinois, Birth Certificates Index transcribed at Ancestry.com) and died August 13, 1955 (Find a Grave has the fourteenth which is incorrect; see Merchant of Words: The Life of Robert St. John (2014); The New York Times said it was the thirteenth.) At some point St. John married and moved to Darien, Connecticut. A 1932 city directory listed St. John as an advertising manager in New York City and married to Gertrude. A brief history of St. John Publications is at Wikipedia.

McDermott and St. John had an affair. In Alter Ego #77, May 2008, Ken Quattro profiled St. John and contacted several artists who knew McDermott. Quattro said “When asked, Lily Renee offered the intriguing evaluation: ‘Marion was an efficient editor [who] later became Archer’s girlfriend.’” In Matt Baker: The Art of Glamour (2012) Jim Amash interviewed Nadine King; below is an excerpt.

Jim Amash: You were an editor for a while as well as a secretary. Was Marion McDermott an editor before you?

Nadine King: Mary McDermott was an editor while I was there. She and St. John started having an affair. They decided to elope somewhere in the South, but they changed their minds and came back. 
It’s not known when the affair started. Together McDermott and St. John made at least two trips to Bermuda. At Ancestry.com a passenger list recorded the arrival of McDermott and St. John at New York City’s LaGuardia Airport on October 1, 1950. Aboard Colonial Airlines’ Flight 101, they had departed Kindley Field, Bermuda. Recorded on the list was McDermott’s address, 26 Ascan Avenue, Forest Hills, New York, and her birthplace, California.

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On Pan American World Airways, Flight 132/27, McDermott and St. John flew from LaGuardia Airport to Kindley Field on November 27, 1951. McDermott’s address was “26 Aspen Ave.”. They returned to New York City aboard Pan American Flight 133/02 on December 2, 1951. McDermott’s address was “26 Ascan Ave.”

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McDermott was found in the U.S. Federal Census. In 1930, McDermott was the oldest of two children born to Francis and Anita, all of whom were born in California. It’s not known when or why the family moved to New York City. McDermott’s father was a sales manager at an import house. They resided in Forest Hills, Queens, at 287 Burns Street.

According to the 1940 census the McDermotts were Forest Hills residents at 212 Burns Street. McDermott was seventeen and her brother, William, was fourteen. Their father was a sales manager in the drug industry.

The 1950 census recorded McDermott living with her parents and brother at 14 Ascan Avenue in Forest Hills, Queens. McDermott was an editor and director of art at a publishing company. 

The California Birth Index (at Ancestry.com) said McDermott was born March 8, 1923 in San Francisco. McDermott’s Social Security application (transcribed at Ancestry.com), was dated June 1942 and had the same birth information plus her full name. In February 1956 McDermott updated her name to Marion Cameron. On May 29, 1999 her name was listed as “Marion M Cameron”. Information about Cameron, presumably her spouse, has not been found.

According to the Social Security Death Index, McDermott passed away May 14, 1999. Her last residence was Miami, Florida. 
Her obituary appeared in the Miami Herald, May 16, 1999. 
A resident of Coral Gables for over fifty years, Marion died May 14, 1999, at her home on Malaga Avenue. A member of Church of the Little Flower and First Congregational Church of Coral Gables. She was for many years as producer/director for Channel 4 television, WTVJ. Her many charitable works included 10 years as a Hospice volunteer and the editor of the Hospice newsletter. A reader for the blind worked with Missionary of Charity. A weaver of stories, a world traveler, she took great joy in being a practitioner as of Tai-Chi as taught by Stephen Chin. She leaves her brother and sister-in-law William and Ruth McDermott of Cape Coral, FL., her daughter-in-law Josette Gamohe of Paris, France, a niece, Nancy McDermott, nephews Bill and Thomas McDermott and her partner in life, Bill Mullaney. Memorial services to be held at The Church of the Little Flower, Tuesday, May 18 at 10:00 a.m. 

Monday, December 3, 2018