| Martha Levinson |
|Residence|| New York, USA
|Title(s)|| Grandmamma (by her Granddaughters) |
Your Mother (by Robert)
|Family|| Isidore Levinson (husband) † |
Cora's Aunt (sister or sister-in-law)
|Loyalty|| Levinson Family |
|Behind the scenes|
|Portrayed by||Shirley MacLaine|
- "Carson and Mrs Hughes - the world has moved on since last we met!"
- —Martha after she steps out of the car when she arrives at Downton[src]
Martha owns houses in New York and Rhode Island, and is wealthy; her husband, Isidore Levinson, was a dry goods merchant in Cincinnati and amassed a considerable fortune before before his death. She is socially ambitious and looked down upon by New York society. In 1888, Martha brought Cora to London after she was widowed in order to find Cora a husband; later that same year Cora and Robert, then Viscount Downton, were married with Cora becoming Lady Downton. Robert had needed to marry an heiress in order to secure Downton's future, and he did not love Cora, but he did later fall in love with her. Cora brought a large fortune as a dowry, which Robert's father tied to the title in order to ensure that whoever becomes Lord Grantham can maintain the tradition. Eventually, after the death of Robert's father, Cora became Countess of Grantham. Cora has a strained relationshipwith her mother while Violet Crawley clashes with her when they are together. Cora and Violet disagree from time to time, but the thought of Martha coming to Downton when Cora was pregnant was enough for them to team up; Violet wrote to her and told her to "come and admire the baby" instead.
Season ThreeEditMrs. Levinson arrived by ship in Liverpool for a visit to Downton in 1920 with her lady's maid, Miss Reed, to attend the wedding of her eldest granddaughter Lady Mary Crawley and Matthew Crawley. She questioned the fairness of Matthew as a third cousin being next in line as heir to Lord Robert Crawley, and thus to her late husband's money. Martha doesn't approve of the title being entailed for a male heir, which bypasses her granddaughters. It is however pointed out to her that as Matthew is marrying Mary, the point is irrelevant. She has visited Downton at least once before and knows Violet; on her visit in 1920, she met Sybil and Branson when they returned and, on her first meeting with the Dowager Countess in 1920, she sadly says "Oh dear, I'm afraid the war has made old women of both of us." to which Violet replies that she tends to "stay out of the sun" and asks Martha "how do you find Downton on your return?"; Martha claims it is "much the same. Perhaps too much the same." but that she "wouldn't want to cast a pall on the festivities.". Violet sarcastically replies that she could "never do that."  Violet and Martha talk about tradition. The dowager countess says that Americans don't care about it, but Martha says that Americans just don't give it power over them. Martha remarks that tradition and history led Europe into war, so Violet should let go of its hand. Violet mixes her metaphores and comments that Martha Levinson is like a homing pigeon that can always find the soft underbelly.
Martha Levinson is very outspoken and gives her opinion frequently. Robert talks about her bringing up unpleasant things from the past and never letting them forget. Cora describes her as bringing drama with her. She talks frequently with the servants and seems to enjoy teasing young Alfred the footman. When Alfred asks Miss Reed if she had been trying to find things out for Mrs. Levinson, Miss Reed informs him that there was no need, as she can read them all like the palm of her hand, and that she will not help them. This shows that Martha knew, long before she was told, that Downton was in trouble and needed money. When there is a disaster in the kitchen and Cora contemplates sending the guests home, Martha spontaneously organizes an "indoor picnic" and even sings. Even Carson much to his own chagrin, has to admit that the evening is a success. When Mary eventually asks her for the money to save Downton, she tells them that her husband has left her a generous allowance, but has tied up the capital. She offers to have them stay in her houses in New York and Newport, as well as adding to Cora's clothing allowance, but she says that she can do no more for them. She questions whether it is worth it to save Downton, as these old houses were meant for another age, and she believes in adapting to the future. She stays at Downton for a month, much longer than expected, and Robert and Violet repeatedly wonder when she will go.
- "From war and peace Downton still stands and the Crawleys are still in it!" - upon arriving at Downton in 1920.
|Appearances and Mentions|
|Series 1||Episode 1||Episode 2||Episode 3||Episode 4||Episode 5||Episode 6||Episode 7|
|Series 2||Episode 1||Episode 2||Episode 3||Episode 4||Episode 5||Episode 6||Episode 7||Episode 8||Christmas Special|
|Series 3||Episode 1|
|Episode 3||Episode 4||Episode 5||Episode 6|
|Episode 7||Episode 8||Christmas Special|
- Christmas Special 2013
Behind the ScenesEdit
- ↑ Cora, when Robert married her, in 1888, already had a fortune; if her father was alive, she would not have had a fortune and would have just been an heiress; this confirms that Isidore must have died before 1888
- ↑ Cora says "Oh, god" at the thought of her mother coming to visit.
- ↑ This link http://www.entertainmentwise.com/news/78611/Downton-Abbey-Star-Praises-Amazing-Shirley-MacLaine shows that Allen Leech, who plays Branson, has at least one scene with Martha, confirming that Martha will meet Sybil and Branson
- ↑ This clip http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VuqaCVc5VLo from The first episode of Series 3, reveals the former quotes and statements and confirms that Martha has visited Downton at least once before, has been affected by the war, and has met the Dowager Countess before, given that there is no introduction between them and she greets Violet by name.
- ↑ http://www.telegraph.co.uk/culture/tvandradio/9825005/Battle-of-the-Dowagers-to-continue-on-new-Downton-Abbey.html
- ↑ http://www.hollywoodreporter.com/live-feed/downton-abbey-season-4-cast-425734
- ↑ http://www.deadline.com/2013/03/shirley-maclaine-returning-to-downton-abbey-6-new-cast-members-join/
- ↑ http://www.entertainmentwise.com/news/107086/New-Cast-Members-To-Join-Downton-Abbey-In-Love-Interest-Storyline-For-Lady-Mary