Verna Felton

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Verna Felton
Vfelton.jpg
Felton in 1954
Born Verna Felton Millar
(1890-07-20)July 20, 1890
Salinas, California, U.S.
Died December 14, 1966(1966-12-14) (aged 76)
North Hollywood, California, U.S.
Cause of death
Stroke
Resting place
Grandview Memorial Park, Glendale, California, U.S.
Occupation Actress
Years active 1917–1966
Spouse(s) Lee Carson Millar, Sr.
(1923–1941) (his death)

Verna Felton (July 20, 1890 – December 14, 1966) was an American character actress who was best known for providing many female voices in numerous Walt Disney Pictures animated films, as well as voicing Fred Flintstone's mother-in-law Pearl Slaghoople for Hanna-Barbera's The Flintstones. Her film appearances during the 1940s included If I Had My Way (1940), Girls of the Big House (1945) and The Fuller Brush Man (1948).

During the early 1950s, Felton was in much demand as a movie character actress, with roles in Buccaneer's Girl (1950) Belles on Their Toes (1952) Don't Bother to Knock (1952) and her memorable supporting role of Mrs. Potts in the film of William Inge's Picnic (1955). She was also known for her husky voice and no-nonsense attitude.

Two of her most famous roles were as Mrs. Day, the protective and domineering mother, who was always looking after her son Dennis Day and trying to boss around Jack Benny on The Jack Benny Program, and as Hilda Crocker on December Bride.

Early years[edit]

She was born in Salinas, California. Felton's father, a doctor, died when she was seven years old. When going over his accounts after his death, Felton's mother discovered that though her husband had a large medical practice in San Jose, there were no records of his patients' payments for treatment and no cash in the office. Shortly before her father's death, Felton had performed in a local benefit for victims of the Galveston Flood. Her singing and dancing attracted the attention of a manager of a road show company that was playing in San Jose at the time. The manager spoke to Felton's mother, offering to give Felton a job with his company. Since the family was experiencing difficult financial times with the loss of Felton's father, her mother contacted the road show manager. Felton quickly joined the cast of the show, growing up in the theater.[1]

Radio and television[edit]

Photo of 1948 Raleigh Cigarettes Program cast: Standing: Pat McGeehan, The Four Knights, David Rose (orchestra leader). Seated: Verna Felton ("Grandma" to Skelton's "Junior" character), Rod O'Connor (announcer), Lurene Tuttle ("Mother" to Skelton's 'Junior' character). Front: Red Skelton.

She also worked extensively in radio, notably playing The Mom in The Cinnamon Bear, Junior the Mean Widdle Kid's grandmother on Red Skelton's radio series and Dennis Day's mother on The Jack Benny Program. In addition, she performed on radio as a regular on The Abbott and Costello Show and The Great Gildersleeve.

Felton appeared in a recurring role as the mother of Ruth Farley, a young woman played by Gloria Winters in the 1953-1955 ABC sitcom with a variety show theme, Where's Raymond?, renamed The Ray Bolger Show. The series starred Ray Bolger as Raymond Wallace, a song-and-dance man who was repeatedly barely on time for his performances. Winters was also known for her role as the well-mannered niece, Penny King, on the Sky King aviation adventure series.[2]

Though some sitcom aficionados might assume that her guest appearances on I Love Lucy led to a regular supporting role as Hilda Crocker on the CBS sitcom December Bride, Felton had played that same character on the radio version two years prior to the television production. December Bride also starred Spring Byington, Dean Miller, Frances Rafferty, and Harry Morgan. Felton continued her Hilda Crocker role on the December Bride spin-off, Pete and Gladys, with Harry Morgan and Cara Williams. For her performance on December Bride, Felton was nominated for The Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Comedy Series in 1958 and in 1959.[3]

She was the original voice of Pearl Slaghoople (Wilma Flintstone's mother), voicing the character as a semi-regular on The Flintstones from 1961-1963.

In 1963, in the series finale of CBS's Dennis the Menace sitcom, Felton played character John Wilson's aunt in the episode entitled "Aunt Emma Visits the Wilsons". In the story line, Mr. Wilson (Gale Gordon) tries to convince Aunt Emma to leave her estate to him and his wife, Eloise (Sara Seegar). Wilson then becomes suspicious when Emma begins spending time with series protagonist Dennis Mitchell (Jay North).[4]

Disney and MGM[edit]

Felton was a popular actress at the Walt Disney Studios and MGM Studios, lending her voice to several animated features, including:

Personal life and death[edit]

Felton was married to radio actor Lee Millar (1888–1941), who also did animation voices (notably for Disney's Pluto). Their son, Lee Carson Millar, Jr. (1924–1980), appeared as an actor on a variety of television series between 1952 and 1967. Felton died of a stroke on the evening of December 14, 1966, the day before Walt Disney died. She enjoyed a film career stretching nearly fifty years, and is interred at Grand View Memorial Park in Glendale, California.

Filmography[edit]

Radio[edit]

Original Air Date Program Role Notes
1937 The Cinnamon Bear Mother
1938-1939 Candid Lady Aunt Julia
1939 Fibber McGee and Molly Mrs. Homer Gildersleeve
1939-1942 The Great Gildersleeve Miss Fitch, Mrs. Goddwin
1939-1955 The Jack Benny Program Dennis' Mother Mrs. Day
1940-1944
1947-1948
Point Sublime Hattie Hirsch
1942 Lux Radio Theatre Madame Therese DeFarge "A Tale of Two Cities"
1942-1943 Tommy Riggs and Betty Lou Mrs. MacIntyre
1942-1949 The Abbott and Costello Show Multiple characters
1943-1947 The Joan Davis Show Blossom Blimp Also known as The Sealtest Village Store
1944-1952 The Judy Canova Show Aunt Agatha
1945 The Old Gold Comedy Theater Nick's Mother "My Favorite Wife"
Also known as The Harold Lloyd Theater
1946-1951 A Day in the Life of Dennis Day Dennis Day's Mother
1946-1953 The Red Skelton Show Junior's Grandmother
1948 Suspense Ada "The Man Who Though He Was Edward G. Robinson"
1950 Young Love Janet's Mother Mrs. Shaw "Visit by Janet's Mom and Jimmy's Dad"
1952-1953 December Bride Hilda Crocker Radio version
1952-1955 My Little Margie Mrs. Odetts Radio version

Films[edit]

Year Film Role Notes
1917 The Chosen Prince, or the Friendship of David and Jonathan Michal
1939 Joe and Ethel Turp Call on the President Neighbor Uncredited
1940 If I Had My Way Mrs. DeLacey Uncredited
1940 Northwest Passage Mrs. Towne Uncredited
1941 Dumbo Elephant Matriarch, Mrs. Jumbo Uncredited
1945 Girls of the Big House Agnes
1946 She Wrote the Book Mrs. Kilgour Uncredited
1950 Buccaneer's Girl Dowager
1950 The Gunfighter Mrs. August Pennyfeather
1950 Cinderella The Fairy Godmother
1951 Alice in Wonderland Queen of Hearts
1952 Don't Bother To Knock Mrs. Ballew
1952 Belles on Their Toes Cousin Leora
1955 Picnic Mrs. Potts
1955 Lady and the Tramp Aunt Sarah
1957 The Oklahoman Mrs. Waynebrook
1959 Sleeping Beauty Flora, Queen Leah
1960 Goliath II Eloise
1967 The Jungle Book Winifred the Elephant Released Posthumously

Television[edit]

Year Program Role Notes
1952 The Ezio Pinza Show Mrs. Day
1952-1953 The George Burns and Gracie Allen Show Emily Marsh, Mrs. Rodney, Maggie, Mrs. Evans 4 episodes
1952-1954 The Dennis Day Show Dennis' Mother Mrs. Day
1953 I Love Lucy Mrs. Simpson, Mrs. Porter "Sales Resistance"
"Lucy Hires a Maid"
1953-1955 Where's Raymond? Ruth Farley's Mother
1954-1959 December Bride Hilda Crocker 155 episodes
1955-1962 The Jack Benny Program Dennis' Mother Mrs. Day 5 episodes
1957 Climax! Nurse "The Disappearance of Amanda Hale"
1959 The Many Loves of Dobie Gillis Mrs. Lapping "Deck the Halls"
1960 The Real McCoys Naomi Vesper "Cousin Naomi"
1960-1961 Pete and Gladys Hilda Crocker 30 episodes
Spin-off of December Bride
1962 Wagon Train Gran Jennings "The Lonnie Fallon Story"
1962 Henry Fonda and the Family TV miniseries
1962-1963 The Flintstones Pearl Slaghoople Voice role
4 episodes
1963 Dennis the Menace Aunt Emma "Aunt Emma Visits the Wilsons"

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ Felton, Verna (January 1948). Love That Red-Head. Radio Mirror. pp. 46, 81, 82. Retrieved May 18, 2014. 
  2. ^ "Where's Raymond?/ The Ray Bolger Show". ctva.biz. Retrieved March 14, 2011. 
  3. ^ http://news.google.com/newspapers?nid=1873&dat=19590418&id=m6YoAAAAIBAJ&sjid=DcoEAAAAIBAJ&pg=1979,3137261
  4. ^ ""Aunt Emma Visits the Wilsons", July 7, 1963". Internet Movie Data Base. Retrieved February 9, 2013. 

References[edit]

  • Terrace, Vincent. Radio Programs, 1924–1984. Jefferson, North Carolina: McFarland, 1999. ISBN 0-7864-0351-9
  • Tucker, Fredrick. Verna Felton. Albany, Georgia: BearManor Media, 2010. ISBN 978-1-59393-524-5

External links[edit]