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|Created by||Barbara Avedon|
|Portrayed by||Alice Pearce
Gladys Kravitz, née Gladys Gruber, is a fictional character on the American situation comedy Bewitched (1964-1972). Portrayed by Alice Pearce from the show's premiere in 1964 until Pearce's death in 1966 and then by Sandra Gould from 1966 until her last appearance in 1971, Gladys Kravitz is an across-the-street neighbor of the program's protagonists, Darrin Stephens (played by Dick York from 1964 to 1969 and Dick Sargent from 1969 until 1972) and his wife, witch Samantha Stephens (Elizabeth Montgomery). Although a relatively minor character on Bewitched, the role was memorable enough that the term "Gladys Kravitz" entered the American lexicon, and is even today used as a synonym for a nosy neighbor or colleague.
Early in the show's run, Alice Pearce's performance of Kravitz was essentially as a friendly, albeit over-bearing, neighbor, often looking to befriend the Stephenses and in so doing, noticing the strange goings-on within the home. Samantha is often quite "friendly" to her, convincing her that the strange happenings are just her imagination. Additionally, the Stephenses visit their house regularly during this era. Sandra Gould's performance of the character, on the other hand, is more of an antagonist, often scheming to catch Samantha in an act of witchcraft or to get the Stephenses into some sort of trouble.
Kravitz is extremely nosy, frequently peeking through her curtains at the Stephens's home. She is convinced that there is something strange going on in their household (and indeed there is, for Samantha Stephens often uses witchcraft that creates unusual events, and the Stephens's witch-and-warlock relatives come and go from the house), and she would yell "ABNER!", referring to her husband (George Tobias), although she can never adequately prove her assertions to him.
Kravitz's nosiness, her frustration at never being able to convince her husband or other neighbors of the odd behavior across the street, and the difficulties she causes the Stephenses are all recurring themes on Bewitched. Samantha always comes up with a fabricated reason why Gladys Kravitz had seen what she had seen, and Kravitz can never prove to others that there is anything beyond the ordinary happening at the Stephens's house, which causes her no end of annoyance and causes her to question her own impressions and even sanity. Sometimes, however, when Gladys and her nosiness go way too far, especially when city officials or the police become involved, Samantha utters, in anger, that the trouble is "some more of Gladys Kravitz's handiwork!"
Gladys is one of the few mortal characters to see through Samantha and Darrin's ruse. She clearly knows that there is something strange going on, even if she is not entirely sure of the source of the oddities. In contrast, Darrin's boss Larry Tate has frequent contact with Samantha and Darrin and never suspects a thing. Gladys is the one mortal who is observant (or nosy) enough to notice the effects of witchcraft at the Stephens' house, even though no one in the Stephens family ever admits to Gladys that Samantha is a witch.
In the Bewitched spinoff series, Tabitha, Nancy Kravitz, Gladys and Abner's niece, goes to visit her old childhood friend, Tabitha (Lisa Hartman), and not long after, Gladys and Abner show up. Much as with Samantha, Gladys didn't approve of Tabitha (she thought of her as a bad influence on Nancy), and was still as nosy as ever. She also ran afoul of Tabitha's Aunt Minerva (Karen Morrow).
Alice Pearce, the first Gladys Kravitz, won a posthumous Emmy award in 1966 for her work on Bewitched. Mary Grace Canfield (Ralph the carpenter from Green Acres) played Harriet Kravitz, Abner's sister, Gladys's sister-in-law, in four episodes of Bewitched in early 1966, while Alice Pearce was either dying or had already died, before the hiring of Sandra Gould as Pearce's replacement as Gladys.
In popular culture
- In the episode "Dammit Janet!" of the animated television series Family Guy, Lois Griffin finds her husband, Peter, and son, Chris, taking down the Christmas decorations on the roof by throwing rocks at them. She is concerned about what the neighbors will think. The scene cuts to an animated version of Gladys looking through her window and telling Abner, who is watching a pornographic film, that "the Griffin boy just killed a plastic reindeer".
- In an episode of The Hogan Family, Jason is trying to convince Sandra he saw something. When she warns him he is "beginning to sound like Gladys Kravitz", he notes "Yeah, but she was always right!"
- In the episode of The Simpsons entitled "Milhouse Doesn't Live Here Anymore", Gladys Kravitz has a statue in the TV Museum inside the "Hall of Nosy Neighbors" (next to Ned Flanders).
- American rock band The Tories released a song called "Gladys Kravitz" as the first single from their debut album Wonderful Life in 1998. The song is a character study of a prototypical gossip who is compared to the character from the Bewitched series.