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Jacob Marley is a fictional character who appears in Charles Dickens's 1843 novella A Christmas Carol. He is Ebenezer Scrooge's deceased business partner, having died on Christmas Eve seven years prior to the book's events. He is now a chained and tormented ghost, doomed to wander the earth forever as punishment for his greed and selfishness when he was alive. Marley roams restlessly, witnessing the hardships that others suffer, and laments that he has forever lost his chance to help them.
Marley arranges for the three spirits to visit Scrooge, giving his friend an opportunity for redemption, which Marley tells him was "...a chance and hope of my procuring."
Appearance in notable film and TV adaptations
- In the 1935 film Scrooge he is played by an uncredited Claude Rains. In this adaptation, he is invisible, and the viewers only hear his voice.
- In the 1938 film A Christmas Carol, he is played by Leo G. Carroll.
- In the 1949 television film The Christmas Carol, he is played by Earl Lee.
- 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 1954 television film A Christmas Carol, he is played by Basil Rathbone.
- In the 1956 television film The Stingiest Man in Town, he is played by Robert Weede.
- In the 1962 animated television special Mister Magoo's Christmas Carol, he is voiced by Royal Dano.
- In the 1969 animated TV film by Famous Classic Tales, Marley is voiced by Bruce Montague. 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 1978 HBO special Rich Little's Christmas Carol, a one-man show in which all of the major roles are played by comedian and impersonator Rich Little doing impressions of various celebrities, Marley is played by Little (for comedic effect) as Richard Nixon wrapped in reel-to-reel tape.
- In the 1983 special Mickey's Christmas Carol, the character is played by Goofy (Hal Smith).
- Frank Finlay's performance as Marley in the 1984 made-for-television film of A Christmas Carol, is considered one of the best portrayals of the character.
- In the film Scrooged (1988), Lew Heyward, a version of Jacob Marley, is portrayed by John Forsythe.
- In the 1991 Star Trek: The Next Generation episode "Devil's Due", a holodeck version of Marley is portrayed by William Glover.
- In the 1992 movie The Muppet Christmas Carol, the character is split into two brothers named Jacob and Robert (a reference to Bob Marley), 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).
- In the 1995 made-for-TV film Ebbie, Jeffrey DeMunn plays Marley's modern version, Jake Marley.
- In the 1998 Canadian made-for-television Western version, Ebenezer (portrayed by Jack Palance), the character's last name has been changed to "Marlowe". He is portrayed by Richard Halliday.
- In the 1999 made-for-television film version, he is portrayed by Bernard Lloyd.
- In the 2000 VH1 made-for-television film A Diva's Christmas Carol, Rozonda Thomas plays a female version of the character Marli Jacob, the former singing partner of Ebony Scrooge.
- In the 2001 film Christmas Carol: The Movie, Marley is voiced by Nicolas Cage.
- In the 2004 parody An Easter Carol, Marley is voiced by Tim Hodge.
- In the 2004 film A Christmas Carol: The Musical, Marley is played by Jason Alexander.
- In the 2006 film A Christmas Carol, the character is portrayed as an anthropomorphic cricket.
- In the 2006 direct-to-DVD film Bah, Humduck! A Looney Tunes Christmas, the Marley character is called Sylvester the Investor.
- 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 animated film adaptation, he is voiced by Gary Oldman.
- 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 (played by UK: Teresa Gallagher/US: Jules de Jongh).
- In the 2017 film The Man Who Invented Christmas, he is played by Donald Sumpter.
- In the Beavis and Butt-Head episode "Beavis and Butt-Head Do Christmas", Marley is portrayed by Butt-Head.
- On October 28, 2019, it was reported that Walt Disney Pictures to develop a musical film titled Marley, which will adapt A Christmas Carol as seen from the perspective of Marley. Bill Condon will write and direct, while Stephen Schwartz will write the songs.
- In the 2019 BBC/FX adaptation, Marley is portrayed by Stephen Graham.