Virginia Christine

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Virginia Christine
Fritz Feld and Virginia Christine, 1979.jpg
Christine, pictured with her husband, Fritz Feld (1979)
Born Virginia Christine Ricketts
(1920-03-05)March 5, 1920
Stanton, Iowa, USA
Died July 26, 1996(1996-07-26) (aged 76)
Brentwood, Los Angeles
California
Cause of death
Cardiovascular disease
Resting place
Mount Sinai Memorial Park Cemetery
Nationality American
Other names Virginia Christine Kraft
Education Elmwood Elementary School
Mediapolis High School
Alma mater University of California, Los Angeles
Occupation Actress
Years active 1943–1979
Spouse(s) Fritz Feld (m. 1940–93)
Children 2

Virginia Christine (March 5, 1920 – July 24, 1996) was an American stage, radio, film, television, and voice actress.[1] Christine had a long career as a character actress in film and television. She is particularly remembered as "Mrs. Olson" (or the "Folgers Coffee Woman") in a number of television commercials for Folgers.

Early life[edit]

Christine was born Virginia Christine Ricketts in Stanton in Montgomery County in southwestern Iowa. She was of Swedish descent. Upon her mother's remarriage, she changed her last name to "Kraft". The family later moved to Des Moines in Polk County, where Virginia attended Elmwood Elementary School. The family relocated again to Des Moines County in southeastern Iowa, not to be confused with the state capital in central Iowa. There Christine attended Mediapolis High School, where she aspired to be a concert pianist. Her family later moved to California, where she enrolled at UCLA.[2]

Career[edit]

Radio and films[edit]

Christine began working in radio during college. She began training for a theatrical career with actor/director Fritz Feld whom she married in 1940. In 1942, she made her stage debut in the Los Angeles production of Hedda Gabler. While performing in the play, she was spotted by an agent from Warner Bros. who signed her to a film contract with the studio.[3] Her first film for Warner's was Edge of Darkness (1943), in which she played a Norwegian peasant girl.[4] She was dropped by Warner Bros. in 1943 and signed with Universal Pictures in 1944. That year, Christine had a supporting role in The Mummy's Curse and The Wife of Monte Cristo, with her husband Fritz Feld (the two would also go on to appear together in the Western 4 for Texas in 1963). In 1946, she appeared in The Scarlet Horseman, a 13-chapter film serial playing Carla Marquette, or Matosca, followed by a supporting role in mystery film The Inner Circle. Christine's next film for Universal was the film noir classic The Killers. She initially tested for the lead role of femme fatale Kitty Collins, but lost out to Ava Gardner. The film's producer, Mark Hellinger, was impressed with her test and cast her as Lilly Harmon Lubinsky, the wife of Lt. Sam Lubinsky (Sam Levene). Christine also portrayed the role of Miss Watston in the 1964 remake of the film, starring Lee Marvin and Angie Dickinson.[3]

In 1950, she played an uncredited, supporting role in The Men. Although the part was small and the film was not a commercial success, her performance impressed the film's producer Stanley Kramer. She became a favorite of his and went on to appear in a number of his films including Cyrano de Bergerac (1950) and High Noon (1952). Kramer later cast her in the 1955 drama Not as a Stranger, where she played a countrywoman. She also coached the film's star Olivia de Havilland on her Swedish accent. The following year, she co-starred in the horror film Invasion of the Body Snatchers. In 1961, Kramer cast her again as a German housekeeper in Judgment at Nuremberg (1961).[3] One of her most notable roles was as Hilary St. George, the bigoted co-worker of the Katharine Hepburn character in the 1967 film Guess Who's Coming to Dinner.[4][5]

Television[edit]

In addition to her work in films, Christine also appeared in numerous television series. In the 1950s, she appeared in multiple guest roles on The Abbott and Costello Show, Four Star Playhouse, Dragnet, Alfred Hitchcock Presents, The Ford Television Theatre, Gunsmoke, Science Fiction Theatre, Matinee Theatre, Father Knows Best, Trackdown, State Trooper, Wanted: Dead or Alive, The Rifleman, Letter to Loretta, and General Electric Theater. In November 1959, Christine co-starred as the wife of a verbally abusive hypochondriac in the first season episode of The Twilight Zone entitled "Escape Clause".[6]

In 1960 and 1961, Christine guest starred on episodes of COronado 9, Rawhide, and The Untouchables. From 1961 to 1962, Christine had a recurring role as widower Ovie Swenson in the Western series Tales of Wells Fargo. She made four guest appearances on Perry Mason, including the role of defendant Beth Sandover in the season 6, 1962 episode, "The Case of the Double-Entry Mind," and murderer Edith Summers in the season 7, 1963 episode, "The Case of the Devious Delinquent." For the remainder of the decade, she continued with guest starring roles in show such as 77 Sunset Strip, Ben Casey, Bonanza, The Fugitive, Hazel, Wagon Train, The Virginian, Going My Way, The F.B.I., and Daniel Boone. In 1969, Christine co-starred in the ABC television movie Daughter of the Mind.

Her greatest fame came in 1965 when she started her 21-year stint as the matronly Mrs. Olson, who had comforting words for young married couples while pouring Folgers Coffee in the television commercials. The commercials became a popular staple on television and Christine's character, Mrs. Olsen, was often parodied by comedians and entertainers including Carol Burnett, Johnny Carson, Bob Hope, Ann-Margret, and Jackie Gleason.[5] She would go on to appear in over 100 commercials for Folgers. In 1971, Christine's hometown of Stanton, Iowa, honored her by transforming the city water tower to resemble a giant coffeepot.[1]

During the 1970s, Christine continued to work primarily in television. Her last role was on the 1979 animated series Scooby-Doo and Scrappy-Doo, in which she provided additional voices.

Later years[edit]

Christine retired from acting in 1979. After her retirement, she did volunteer work at Planned Parenthood and served as a judge at the American College Theatre Festival. Christine was later appointed the honorary mayor of Brentwood, Los Angeles where she and her husband resided for many years.[7]

Personal life[edit]

In November 1940, Christine married actor Fritz Feld.[8] The couple had two sons, Steven and Danny. Christine and Feld remained married until Feld's death in 1993.[1][3]

Death[edit]

On July 24, 1996, Christine died at her Brentwood home of cardiovascular disease.[1] Her interment was at the Jewish Mount Sinai Memorial Park Cemetery in the Hollywood Hills section of Los Angeles.[9]

Filmography[edit]

Film
Year Title Role Notes
1943 Truck Busters Eadie Watkins
1943 Edge of Darkness Hulda Uncredited
1943 Mission to Moscow Maria - Beautician Uncredited
1943 Action in the North Atlantic Pebbles Scenes deleted
1943 Women at War Mary Sawyer
1944 Raiders of Ghost City Countess Elsa von Merck, alias Trina Dressard Film serial
1944 The Old Texas Trail Queenie Leone
1944 The Mummy's Curse Princess Ananka
1945 Counter-Attack Tanya Uncredited
1945 Phantom of the Plains Celeste
1945 Girls of the Big House Bernice Meyers
1946 The Scarlet Horseman Carla Marquette aka Matosca Film serial
1946 Idea Girl Evelina
1946 Murder Is My Business Dora Darnell Alternative title: Occupation Murder
1946 House of Horrors Lady of the Streets
1946 The Wife of Monte Cristo Uncredited
1946 The Inner Circle Rhoda Roberts
1946 The Killers Lilly Harmon Lubinsky
1946 The Mysterious Mr. Valentine Lola Carson
1947 The Invisible Wall Mildred Elsworth
1947 The Gangster Mrs. Karty Alternative title: Low Company
1948 Women in the Night Claire Adams Alternative titles: Curse of a Teenage Nazi
When Men Are Beasts
1948 Night Wind Jean Benson
1948 Cover Up Margaret Baker Alternative title: The Intruder
1949 Special Agent Mabel Rumpler
1950 The Men Patient's Wife at Lecture Uncredited
Alternative title: Battle Stripe
1950 Cyrano de Bergerac Sister Marthe
1952 The First Time Nurse Uncredited
1952 High Noon Mrs. Simpson Uncredited
1953 Never Wave at a WAC Lt. Myles, Recruiting Officer Uncredited
1953 Woman They Almost Lynched Jenny
1954 Dragnet Mrs. Caldwell Alternative title: The Original Dragnet
1955 The Cobweb Sally
1955 Not as a Stranger Bruni
1955 Good Morning, Miss Dove Mrs. Rigsbee Uncredited
1956 Invasion of the Body Snatchers Wilma Lentz
1956 The Killer Is Loose Mary Gillespie
1956 Nightmare Mrs. Sue Bressard
1956 Three Brave Men Helen Goldsmith
1957 The Spirit of St. Louis Secretary Uncredited
1957 Johnny Tremain Mrs. Lapham
1957 The Careless Years Mathilda Vernon
1960 Flaming Star Mrs. Phillips Uncredited
1961 Judgment at Nuremberg Mrs. Halbestadt
1962 Incident in an Alley Mrs. Connell
1963 Cattle King Ruth Winters Alternative title: Cattle King of Wyoming
1963 4 for Texas Brunhilde - Elya Carlson's Maid
1963 The Prize Mrs. Bergh, Chaperon
1964 One Man's Way Anna Peale
1964 The Killers Miss Watson
1965 A Rage to Live Emma
1966 Billy the Kid vs. Dracula Eva Oster
1967 Guess Who's Coming to Dinner Hilary St. George
1968 In Enemy Country Frau Gulden
1969 Hail, Hero! Eleanor Murchiston
Television
Year Title Role Notes
1951 Front Page Detective Beatrice Hillmane Episode: "The Devil's Bible"
1952 Racket Squad Episode: "The Phantom Bible"
1952 Personal Appearance Theater Episode: "The Chair"
1952 Dangerous Assignment Carla Episode: "The Perfect Alibi"
1952-1953 The Abbott and Costello Show Various roles 2 episodes
1952-1954 Dragnet Various roles 4 episodes
1953 I'm the Law Elliot Episode: "The Model Agency Story"
1953-1954 Four Star Playhouse Various roles 2 episodes
1954 Adventures of Superman Mrs. Frank Episode: "Lady in Black"
1954 The Whistler Helen Episode: "The Return"
1954-1956 The Ford Television Theatre Various roles 2 episodes
1955 Studio 57 Jenny Pickett Episode: "The Ballad of Jubal Pickett"
1955 Stage 7 Secretary Episode: "The Press Conference"
1955 Soldiers of Fortune Bonnie Episode: "Run 'Till You Die"
1955 Alfred Hitchcock Presents Various roles 2 episodes
1956 Crusader Episode: "Fear"
1956 The Star and the Story Alice Episode: "Arab Duel"
1956 Front Row Center Various roles 2 episodes
1956 Private Secretary Maud Episode: "Elusive"
1956 Big Town Episode: "Blackmail"
1956 Passport to Danger Episode: "London"
1956 Science Fiction Theatre Various roles 2 episodes
1956 The Adventures of Jim Bowie Katrina Gotshawk Episode: "The Squatter"
1956 Cavalcade of America Mrs. Sargent Episode: "Innocent Bystander"
1956-1957 Matinee Theater Various roles 2 episodes
1956-1958 Father Knows Best Grace 2 episodes
1956-1959 General Electric Theater Various roles 2 episodes
1957 Wire Service Sigrid Jensen Episode: "Profile of Ellen Gale"
1957 Hey, Jeannie! Mrs. Warren Episode: "Jeannie Plays Cupid"
1957 The Lone Ranger Cecile Charron Episode: "Canuck"
1957 Casey Jones Doris Jones Episode: "Storm Warning"
1957-1958 Trackdown Various roles 2 episodes
1957-1959 State Trooper Various roles 3 episodes
1957-1965 Gunsmoke Various roles 2 episodes
1958 The Restless Gun Amy Durant Episode: "Strange Family in Town"
1958 Whirlybirds Mrs. Thompson Episode: "The Brothers"
1958 Mike Hammer June Earl Episode: "For Sale, Deathbed, Used"
1958 The Millionaire Mrs. Barnett Episode: "The Russ White Story"
1958 The Thin Man Mildred Episode: "The Valley Forger"
1958 Behind Closed Doors Julie Episode: "The Cape Canaveral Story"
1958 Peter Gunn Nancy Davis Episode: "The Vicious Dog"
1958 Dick Powell's Zane Grey Theater Mrs. Julie Hart Episode: "The Scaffold"
1958 Buckskin Miss Emily Pringle Episode: "Miss Pringle"
1958 The Donna Reed Show Margaret Lang Episode: "The Baby Contest"
1958 The Life and Legend of Wyatt Earp Martha Evans Episode: "Plague Carrier"
1958-1960 Letter to Loretta Various roles 3 episodes
1958-1963 Perry Mason Various roles 4 episodes
1959 Rescue 8 Millie Wilde Episode: "Flash Flood"
1959 Steve Canyon Mary Moore Episode: "The Bomb"
1959 The Lawless Years Mrs. Pavlock Episode: "The Immigrant"
1959 Frontier Doctor Hester Gray, Stan's Sister Episode: "The Twisted Road"
1959 Man Without a Gun Episode: "Eye Witness"
1959 How to Marry a Millionaire Alma Fergeson Episode: "Love On Approval"
1959 Wanted: Dead or Alive Various roles 2 episodes
1959 The DuPont Show with June Allyson Mother Episode: "The Opening Door"
1959 The Twilight Zone Ethel Bedeker Episode: "Escape Clause"
1959 The Man from Blackhawk Mary Schuler Episode: "Death Is the Best Policy"
1959-1961 The Rifleman Various roles 2 episodes
1960 M Squad Mrs. Fassard Episode: "The Twisted Way"
1960 Riverboat Aunt Samantha Dexter Episode: "The Treasure of Hawk Hill"
1960 Happy Janice Episode: "Charlie's First Love"
1960 Thriller Marge Episode: "The Twisted Image"
1960-1961 COronado 9 Various roles 2 episodes
1960-1961 Rawhide Various roles 2 episodes
1960-1961 The Untouchables Various roles 2 episodes
1960-1963 77 Sunset Strip Various roles 2 episodes
1961 Maverick Verna Lyme Episode: "Last Stop: Oblivion"
1961 Shirley Temple Theatre Rebecca Baines Episode: "Onawandah"
1961 The Deputy Molly Baker Episode: "Tension Point"
1961 This Is the Life Sophia Szabo Episode: "Song in the Night"
1961 The Asphalt Jungle Miss Brandt Episode: "The Sniper"
1961 Mister Ed Margaret Episode: "Little Boy"
1961-1962 Tales of Wells Fargo Ovie Swenson 14 episodes
1961-1965 Wagon Train Various roles 5 episodes
1962 The New Breed Episode: "Hail, Hail, the Gang's All Here"
1962 Target: The Corruptors! Lorraine Episode: "A Book of Faces"
1962 Going My Way Mrs. Randall Episode: "The Parish Car"
1962 Stoney Burke Flora Hill Episode: "A Matter of Pride"
1962 The Eleventh Hour Mrs. Drury Episode: "My Name Is Judith, I'm Lost, You See"
1963-1964 Ben Casey Various roles 2 episodes
1963-1964 Bonanza Various roles 2 episodes
1963-1967 The Virginian Various roles 4 episodes
1964 Mr. Novak Mrs. Payne Episode: "The Exile"
1964 Hazel Mrs. McGuire Episode: "Luncheon with the Governor"
1964-1965 The Fugitive Various roles 2 episodes
1965 The Big Valley Margaret Coleman Episode: "The Young Marauders"
1966 Laredo Agnes Halsey Episode: "Sound of Terror"
1966 A Man Called Shenandoah Fran Macauley Episode: "Macauley's Cure"
1966 Jericho Episode: "Long Journey Across a Short Street"
1966-1968 The F.B.I. Various roles 3 episodes
1967 Felony Squad Cleaning Woman Episode: "The Deadly Partner"
1967 The Invaders Mrs. Thorne Episode: "Labyrinth"
1968-1970 Daniel Boone Various roles 2 episodes
1969 Lancer Hannah Sickles Episode: "Child of Rock and Sunlight"
1969 Daughter of the Mind Helga Television movie
1970 Nanny and the Professor Mrs. Wilson Episode: "Nanny and the Smoke-Filled Room"
1970 The Old Man Who Cried Wolf Miss Cummings Television movie
1974 Ironside Mrs. Hawkins Episode: "Raise the Devil: Part 1"
1976 Woman of the Year Alma Television movie
1976 Kojak Mrs. Yankowski Episode: "By Silence Betrayed"
1979 Scooby-Doo and Scrappy-Doo Additional voices Unknown episodes

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c d "Virginia Christine, TV's Mrs. Olson, 76". Associated Press in New York Times. July 26, 1996. Retrieved 2009-02-11. 
  2. ^ "Christine, Virginia". desmoinesregister.com. December 30, 2004. Retrieved March 11, 2013. 
  3. ^ a b c d Vosburgh, Dick (July 30, 1996). "Obituary:Virginia Christine". independent.co.uk. Retrieved March 11, 2013. 
  4. ^ a b "Virginia Christine, TV's Mrs. Olson". Beaver County Times. July 25, 1996. p. A4. Retrieved March 11, 2013. 
  5. ^ a b Oliver, Myrna (July 25, 1996). "Virginia Christine; Played 'Mrs. Olson' in Series of Coffee Ads". latimes.com. Retrieved March 11, 2013. 
  6. ^ Lentz, Harris M. (2001). Science Fiction, Horror & Fantasy Film and Television Credits: Television shows (2 ed.). McFarland. p. 2173. ISBN 0-786-40952-5. 
  7. ^ Feramisco, Thomas M.; Moran Koster, Peggy (2007). The Mummy Unwrapped: Scenes Left on Universal's Cutting Room Floor. McFarland. p. 158. ISBN 0-786-43734-0. 
  8. ^ Smith, Stevens (November 26, 1985). "FRITZ FELD: STILL POPPING AT AGE 85". The Los Angeles Times. p. D6. 
  9. ^ Parish, James Robert (2001). The Hollywood Book Of Death: The Bizarre, Often Sordid, Passings Of More Than 125 American Movie and TV Idols. Contemporary Books. p. 396. ISBN 0-809-22227-2. 

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