Madge Blake

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Madge Blake
Born Madge Cummings
(1899-05-31)May 31, 1899
Kinsley, Edwards County
Kansas, USA
Died February 19, 1969(1969-02-19) (aged 69)
Pasadena, California
Cause of death
Heart attack after admission to hospital following a fall at her home
Resting place
Grand View Memorial Park Cemetery, Glendale, California
Occupation Film, television actress
Years active 1949–69; her death
Spouse(s) James Lincoln Blake (19??-19??)
Children One son
Relatives Milburn Stone (uncle)

Madge Blake (née Cummings; May 31, 1899 – February 19, 1969) was an American character actress best remembered for her roles as Larry Mondello's mother, Margaret Mondello, on the CBS/ABC sitcom Leave it to Beaver, as Flora MacMichael on the ABC/CBS sitcom The Real McCoys, and as Aunt Harriet Cooper in ninety-six episodes of ABC's Batman.

Early life[edit]

Blake was born in Kinsley in Edwards County in south central Kansas, to Albert Cummings and the former Alice Stone. Her father was a Methodist circuit rider who discouraged her from becoming an actress, thus she did not enter acting until later in life, despite her family's relocation from Kansas to southern California. Though he was five years her junior, Blake was a niece of the actor Milburn Stone, the Doc Adams character on CBS's long-running Gunsmoke western series.[1]

During World War II, she and her husband, James Lincoln Blake, worked in Utah on construction of the detonator for the atomic bomb and performed such jobs as testing equipment destined for the Manhattan Project.[2] The couple received a citation for their work from the U.S. government.[3]

Although five years his senior, Blake was a niece of actor Milburn Stone, who carried the role of Doc Adams on CBS's Gunsmoke. She did not begin to study acting until she was fiftyh, when she enrolled at the Pasadena Playhouse and took advantage of whatever influence or contacts Milburn Stone had to land acting roles. In the middle 1950s, Blake appeared on Rod Cameron's City Detective syndicated crime drama and in Ray Milland's sitcom, Meet Mr. McNutley, renamed in the second season as The Ray Milland Show. Blake appeared in four episodes of the NBC sitcom It's a Great Life (1954-1956) and twice on CBS's December Bride, with Spring Byington.

Acting career[edit]

Blake portrayed gushy gossip columnist Dora Bailey in Singin' in the Rain (1952) and was a model for one of the fairies in Walt Disney's animated version of Sleeping Beauty (1959). She appeared as Mrs. Porter, a babysitter, in the 1959 pilot of CBS's Dennis the Menace. About this time, she was cast in a guest-starring role in the sitcoms, Guestward, Ho!, with Joanne Dru on ABC, and Angel, with Annie Fargé on CBS. In 1961, she guest starred in the episode "A View of Murder" of the syndicated crime drama The Brothers Brannagan. Blake's Flora MacMichael was a romantic foil to Walter Brennan's "Grandpa Amos McCoy" on The Real McCoys, a situation comedy about a West Virginia mountain family that relocated to southern California.[4]

Prior to her role in Batman, she had a recurring role on The Jack Benny Program as the president of The Jack Benny Fan Club - Pasadena Chapter. She played Millie Brinkerhoff in the episode "Instant Wedding" in the 1963 NBC military drama The Lieutenant starring Gary Lockwood in the title role. Blake appeared in the pilot episode of The Addams Family (broadcast in the U.S in September 1964) as Miss Comstock, an official from the Addams' children's school. Blake also appeared in a memorable episode of I Love Lucy in 1957 with George Reeves guest-starring as Superman and in an earlier episode in 1954 as store clerk, Mrs. Mulford. At one point, the producers of Batman wanted to fire Blake for unknown reasons. Adam West, with whom she had become friends, stood up for her and she kept her job. The next day, he found a freshly baked cake in his dressing room.[4]

Declining health and death[edit]

Declining health saw her role as Aunt Harriet reduced, and with the introduction of Batgirl in the third and final season of Batman she only appeared in two episodes that season as a guest role. Shortly before her death, she appeared as Mrs. Hardy in the episode "The Con Man" of the CBS sitcom, The Doris Day Show.

Blake was admitted to Huntington Memorial Hospital in Pasadena, California, after she fell at her home and fractured an ankle. She died in the hospital at the age of sixty-nine following a heart attack. She is interred beside her mother, Alice Cummings, who died in 1931, at Grand View Memorial Park Cemetery in Glendale, California.

Filmography[edit]

References[edit]

External links[edit]