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Jacob Marley is a minor but important character in A Christmas Carol and leads his best friend and partner, Ebenezer on the path of redemption.

Role in book[]

Seven years prior to A Christmas Carol, Jacob dies of unknown circumstances with his heir being Ebenezer Scrooge, his friend, and business partner. Marley is the first ghost (other than the three spirits) to visit Ebenezer seven years later. He first preys upon Scrooge by appearing as the knocker and also causing the bells in the house to ring. Marley appears to Scrooge, warning him to change his ways before he ends up like Marley and the other ghosts they once knew. He says that he will send three spirits, and to expect the first ghost when the bell tolls one, the second at two the next night and the third one at midnight.

Role in adaptations[]

  • In the 1935 film Scrooge, he is played by an uncredited Claude Rains. Also unlike in most versions he is invisible and you only hear his voice.
  • In the 1938 film A Christmas Carol, he is played by Leo G. Carroll.
  • Michael Hordern played Marley twice, once in the 1951 film Scrooge and then as the voice of Marley in Richard Williams' 1971 animated film. Hordern also played the role of Scrooge in a 1977 television adaptation for the BBC, with the role of Marley played by John Le Mesurier.
  • In the 1969 animated TV film by Famous Classic Tales, Marley is voiced by Bruce Montague. Unlike most versions, this incarnation of Marley has a skull-like head with hair dancing up like a flame, a floor-length nightgown, and chains wrapped around his waist.
  • In the 1970 film Scrooge, Marley is played by Alec Guinness.
  • In the 1983 special Mickey's Christmas Carol, the character is played by Goofy (Hal Smith). This version of the character was mentioned to be like a twisted version of Robin Hood, "robbing widows and swindling the poor," which ultimately led to his punishment of carrying his chains. He was also mentioned to have left very little in the way of a fortune, leaving only enough for Scrooge to pay for Marley's tombstone so the former had him buried at sea instead.
  • In the 1984 made-for-television film of A Christmas Carol, the film opens with Marley's funeral procession. While Scrooge walks home, he hears Marley's voice calling him from an apparitional hearse, and then again before Scrooge sees Marley's face on the door knocker. Frank Finlay's performance as Marley is considered one of the best portrayals of the character.[1]
  • In the film Scrooged (1988), a modern interpretation of Dickens' novella, Lew Heyward, a version of Jacob Marley, is portrayed by John Forsythe. In a particularly memorable scene, he is depicted as a walking mummified corpse all covered in dust and cobwebs as he appears to Frank Cross, the film's Scrooge, played by Bill Murray.
  • In the 1991 Star Trek: The Next Generation episode "Devil's Due", Data reenacts Jacob Marley's scene, playing the role of Scrooge. A holodeck version of Marley is portrayed by William Glover.
  • In the 1992 movie The Muppet Christmas Carol, the character is bifurcated into two brothers named Jacob and Robert (a reference to Bob Marley) so that they can be played respectively by Statler and Waldorf (Jerry Nelson and Dave Goelz).
  • In the 1994 special A Flintstones Christmas Carol, the character is called 'Jacob Marbley' and is played by Mr. Slate (John Stephenson). A stone tablet portrait shows of Marbley cheating Scrooge by tipping his side of the scale with his finger.
  • In the 1995 made-for-TV film Ebbie, Jeffrey DeMunn plays Marley's modern version, Jake Marley, Elizabeth "Ebbie" Scrooge's mentor and later partner who dies of a heart attack right in front of her.
  • In the 1997 made-for-television film, Ms. Scrooge, Katherine Helmond portrays a female version of the character, Maude Marley. She explains that her only chance for salvation is for Ebenita to changer her ways.
  • In the 1998 Canadian made-for-television Western version, Ebenezer (portrayed by Jack Palance), the character's last name has been changed to "Marlowe" and is portrayed by Richard Halliday.
  • In the 1999 made-for-television film version, he is portrayed by Bernard Lloyd. This film version opens with his funeral in 1836, then jumps ahead to 1843.
  • In the 2001 film Christmas Carol: The Movie, Marley is voiced by Nicolas Cage.
  • In the 2004 film A Christmas Carol: The Musical, Marley is played by Jason Alexander.
  • Marley's Ghost is a 2003 play by Jeff Goode which is a prequel to A Christmas Carol.
  • In the 2006 movie A Christmas Carol, the character is portrayed as an anthropomorphic cricket (just like Jiminy Cricket, who played the Ghost of Christmas Past in Mickey's Christmas Carol). In this adaptation, he is given an extra scene where Scrooge's redemption frees him from his punishment.
  • In the 2008 comedy film An American Carol, the role of Marley is taken by the spirit of John F. Kennedy, portrayed by Chriss Anglin.
  • In the 2009 film adaptation, he is played by Gary Oldman. This version is shown to be in a state of decay, with his cheeks splitting at one point, rendering him unable to talk properly.
  • The 2010 made-for-television film Christmas Cupid, the role is taken by Ashley Bensen as Caitlin Quinn an actress who dies after choking on an olive martini and sees to Sloane's redemption by making her visit the past, present, and future and see from her evil ways.
  • In the 2015 BBC television series Dickensian he is played by Peter Firth.
  • In the Thomas and Friends episode, Diesel's Ghostly Christmas, the role of Marley's Ghost is portrayed by Emily.

Marley is a dog in marley and me :-)

Trivia[]

  • Marley was considered to be in a A Hearth's Warming Tail, an episode from My Little Pony with his role being played by Discord, a recurring anti-hero on the shoe itself.
Charles Dickens's A Christmas Carol
Book:A Christmas Carol
Characters
Ebenezer ScroogeSpirit of Christmas PastSpirit of Christmas PresentSpirit of Christmas Yet to ComeJacob MarleyBob CratchitTiny Tim CratchitEmily CratchitFredFred's wifeMartha CratchitBelinda CratchitPeter CratchitLucy CratchitMatthew CratchitBelleMr. FezziwigMrs. Fezziwig
Film Adaptations
Scrooge, or, Marley's GhostA Christmas Carol (1908)A Christmas Carol (1910)Scrooge (1913)Scrooge (1935)A Christmas Carol (1938)Scrooge (1951)It's Never Too LateA Christmas Carol (1960)Scrooge (1970)A Christmas Carol (1971)An American Christmas CarolMickey's Christmas CarolScroogedThe Muppet Christmas CarolA Christmas Carol (1997)A Diva's Christmas CarolChristmas Carol: The MovieA Carol ChristmasSpringtime with RooChasing ChristmasA Christmas Carol (2006)A Dennis the Menace ChristmasAn American CarolBarbie in a Christmas CarolA Christmas Carol (2009)The Smurfs: A Christmas Carol
TV Adaptations
"The Christmas Carol" • A Christmas Carol (1954) Mister Magoo's Christmas Carol A Carol for Another Christmas Rich Little's Christmas Carol A Special Sesame Street Christmas The Stingiest Man in Town Bugs Bunny's Christmas Carol A Christmas Carol (1982) A Christmas Carol (1984) Blackadder's Christmas Carol A Flintstones Christmas Carol Ebbie Ebenezer An All Dogs Christmas Carol A Christmas Carol (1999) A Christmas Carol (2000) An Easter Carol A Christmas Carol (2004) Karroll's Christmas Bah, Humduck! A Looney Tunes Christmas Nan's Christmas Carol • "A Christmas Carol" (Doctor Who) It's Christmas, Carol! • "A Hearth's Warming Tail" (My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic) • "A London Carol" (The Suite Life on Deck)
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