Marjorie Knapp Littlejohn passed away Monday evening, the 25th of February 2019. Born in Shreveport, Louisiana, to Lucille Cherry and Lynn Knapp, she was preceded in death by her parents, stepfather Don Carle Gillette, and husband Erik Price Littlejohn. She is survived by her son John Price Littlejohn, son Erik Poag Littlejohn and wife Nancy, and daughter Anne Littlejohn Bell and husband Richard; her grandchildren Erin Bell Kutsko and husband Paul, Brian Clayton Bell, and Isabella Sonnet Littlejohn; and her great-grandchild Eleanora Mae Kutsko.
Singing and dancing from a young age, Marjorie appeared in vaudeville which launched a career in show business that spanned her childhood through early adult years. From WGBF in Evansville, Indiana, Marjorie was the featured performer on a syndicated afternoon radio show. A request from the Sears, Roebuck Company, who sponsored her radio show, took Marjorie, at age 11, to New York for the World Broadcasting Company. Nationally syndicated radio appearances led quickly to the theatre. Michael Todd cast Marjorie, at age 17, in the musical Star and Garter. She appeared in the musical Boys and Girls Together with Ed Wynn and her role in the national touring company of Something for the Boys led to a friendship with Ethel Merman. The rapport with Merman continued as Marjorie was cast as the alternate to Merman for the character of Annie Oakley in the Rogers and Hammerstein produced Broadway musical Annie Get Your Gun.
Married in 1948 to Erik Price Littlejohn, Marjorie left show business to live in East Texas where she was welcomed into and became an integral part of a large and extended family. A frequent visitor to Houston, she moved to Houston with her family in the late 1960s where Marjorie became active in a number of organizations including St Martin’s Episcopal Church and the Bayou Bend Collection and Gardens of The Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, where she was an active docent for 35 years.
In working with and around costume designers, Marjorie became fascinated by and developed a love for fashion design and particularly the needle arts. In the 1980s, she opened Marjorie Littlejohn Needlework where she specialized in unique and custom designed needlework. She became known nationally for her understanding of liturgical symbols which resulted in commissions for the design of tapestries, rugs, altar rail kneelers, pew cushions, and clerical vestments. Her needlework designs can be found in over one hundred fifty religious institutions, of many faiths, throughout the United States including the National Cathedral in Washington, DC. Recognition of her skill and understanding of the needle arts resulted in Marjorie being certified by numerous museums and institutions including the Royal School of Needlework at Hampton Court Palace for whom she served as their exclusive representative in the United States. Her understanding of the unique and historical character of needle arts led to Marjorie becoming the first person in the United States to be certified by the American Society of Appraisers as a specialist in the authenticity and valuation of needle arts.
A loving mother, grandmother, great grandmother and friend to many, her smile, warmth, strength, and independence will be missed by those who knew and loved her.
Interment will be with family in East Texas following a private memorial service in celebration of her life. In lieu of flowers and customary remembrances, the family requests that memorial contributions be directed to The Bayou Bend Collection and Gardens, Post Office Box 6826, Houston, Texas 77265, or to St. Martin's Episcopal Church, 717 Sage Road, Houston, Texas 77056.
The family wishes to express its appreciation and gratitude to Bridgett Broussard, Nicole Goodman, Tawana Goodman and Carletta Miller for their devotion and loving care.