Bea Benaderet

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Bea Benaderet
Bea Benadaret 1966.JPG
Benadaret in 1966.
Born Beatrice Benaderet
(1906-04-04)April 4, 1906
New York City, New York, U.S.
Died October 13, 1968(1968-10-13) (aged 62)
Los Angeles, California, U.S.
Cause of death
Lung cancer and pneumonia
Resting place
Valhalla Memorial Park Cemetery, North Hollywood, Los Angeles, California
Years active 1926–1968
Spouse(s) Jim Bannon (1938–1950; divorced); 2 children
Eugene Twombly (1957–1968; her death)
Children Jack Bannon
Maggie Bannon

Beatrice “Bea” Benaderet (April 4, 1906 – October 13, 1968)[1] was an American actress born in New York City and reared in San Francisco, California. Her major breaks in radio came on The Jack Benny Program and as a member of Orson Welles's Mercury Theatre repertory company. She appeared in a wide variety of television work, which included a starring role in the 1960s television series Petticoat Junction and Green Acres as Shady Rest Hotel owner Kate Bradley, supporting roles as Blanche Morton in The George Burns and Gracie Allen Show and as the original voice of Betty Rubble during the first four seasons of The Flintstones, and in The Beverly Hillbillies as Pearl Bodine. She did a great deal of voice work in Warner Bros. animated cartoons of the 1940s and 1950s, most famously as Granny.

Early life[edit]

Benaderet's father Samuel was a Turkish Jewish emigrant, and her mother, Margaret (née O'Keefe) was Irish-American.[2]

Radio career[edit]

Benaderet's first job in radio was at KFRC in San Francisco, California. Her responsibilities there included acting, singing, writing, and producing.[3] Bea Benaderet was a member of the Mercury Theatre repertory company heard in Orson Welles's radio presentations including "Escape", "The Magnificent Ambersons", "The Hurricane", "A Christmas Carol", "Craig's Wife" and "June Moon".[4]:324–360 She first received notice for her radio work in the 1940s on Fibber McGee & Molly, The Jack Benny Program, My Favorite Husband, The Mel Blanc Show, The Great Gildersleeve, and Amos 'n Andy. She played Blanche Morton, the next-door neighbor to George Burns and Gracie Allen, on both the radio and television incarnations of The George Burns and Gracie Allen Show.

Television[edit]

When Lucille Ball and husband Desi Arnaz decided to develop a program for CBS television called I Love Lucy, Benaderet, who had worked with Ball on My Favorite Husband, was first choice to fill the role of Ethel Mertz, but was ultimately unavailable to accept it since she had already been cast for the fledgling television production of The Burns and Allen Show. Vivian Vance, a relatively unknown character actress and singer, was eventually cast in the part. Benaderet did eventually appear in a guest role on I Love Lucy on January 21, 1952, as "Miss Lewis", a love-starved spinster neighbor.[citation needed]

Benaderet was twice nominated for the Primetime Emmy Award for Best Supporting Actress (1954, 1955) for her work on The George Burns and Gracie Allen Show.[5][6]

Voice acting[edit]

Benaderet voiced numerous female characters in the Warner Bros. animated shorts of the 1940s, including "Granny" (the sometimes dimwitted, sometimes assertive owner of Tweety). She performed the voice of Granny until 1955, when she was succeeded by June Foray.

Family[edit]

Benaderet and her first husband, actor Jim Bannon had two children: Jack, an actor, and Maggie.

Later life and career[edit]

Benaderet was busy during the last decade of her life, starting with a voice role as Betty Rubble in the animated series The Flintstones, which debuted in 1960. The Flintstones reunited Benaderet with her 1940s co-workers Alan Reed (Fred Flintstone) and Mel Blanc (Barney Rubble and Dino). Benaderet received no on-screen credit for her many voice characterizations with Warner Bros., as the studio was bound by Blanc's contractual stipulation that no other voice actor receive credit while he was under contract to Warners.[citation needed]

Benaderet was considered for the role of Granny in The Beverly Hillbillies by producer Paul Henning, who felt she was too buxom and feminine for the character he envisioned as a frail but caustic spitfire; Irene Ryan was eventually cast. Henning cast Benaderet as middle-aged, widowed Cousin Pearl Bodine (Jethro's mother), and she appeared in the pilot, as well as a majority of episodes throughout the series' first season. Cousin Pearl and her daughter Jethrine (Max Baer, Jr. in drag with Linda Kaye Henning providing the voice) moved into the Clampett mansion in the first season. However, the female Bodines disappeared after Henning cast Benaderet in his next series Petticoat Junction, which premiered in September 1963. She starred as Kate Bradley (a cousin of Pearl Bodine) owner/operator of the Shady Rest Hotel.

Petticoat Junction proved an enormous hit in its first season, and remained a top-25 program for several years. Benaderet had done a radio variation of Green Acres with Gale Gordon beginning in 1950 called Granby's Green Acres. Green Acres was a spinoff of Petticoat Junction, with Eva Gabor portraying Benaderet's original part, and Benaderet herself appearing in several episodes as her Petticoat Junction character, in order to establish the Hooterville setting. (Eddie Albert took Gale Gordon's role as the lawyer who moves to the country to become a farmer as Gordon was then occupied with his role as "Mr. Mooney" on The Lucy Show.)

Illness/death[edit]

Benaderet was diagnosed with cancer in 1967, which led to her departure from Petticoat Junction in what was hoped would be a temporary absence. On October 13, 1968, Benaderet died in Los Angeles, California, aged 62 at the Good Samaritan Hospital from lung cancer and pneumonia. She was survived by her second husband, and her two children. She was entombed in Valhalla Memorial Park Cemetery in North Hollywood, Los Angeles, California. Her second husband Eugene Twombly died of a heart attack on the day of her funeral (four days after her death), and was interred beside her. Twombly had been a sound-effects artist for a number of radio and television shows.

Filmography[edit]

Shorts[edit]

Radio[edit]

Television work[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ California Deaths, 1940-1997. Family Tree Legends Records Collection (Online Database) confirms the 1906 birth year.
  2. ^ Jim Cox, The Great Radio Sitcoms, McFarland & Company Incorporated Pub, 2007, p. 191.
  3. ^ "Meet Millie and Her Friends". Radio-TV Mirror 40 (1): 19. June 1953. Retrieved 28 November 2014. 
  4. ^ Welles, Orson, and Peter Bogdanovich, edited by Jonathan Rosenbaum, This is Orson Welles. New York: HarperCollins Publishers 1992 ISBN 0-06-016616-9.
  5. ^ "George Burns and Gracie Allen Show". The New York Times (Baseline StudioSystems). Retrieved 2014-11-08. 
  6. ^ "Emmy Awards Database". The Academy of Television Arts & Sciences. Retrieved 2014-11-08. 

Further reading[edit]

  • Sitcom Queens: Divas of the Small Screen by Michael Karol (2005); ISBN 0-595-40251-8
  • The Women Who Made Television Funny: Ten Stars of 1950s Sitcoms by David C. Tucker (2007); ISBN 978-0-7864-2900-4

External links[edit]