Bridget Hanley

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Bridget Hanley
Born Bridget Hanley
(1941-02-03) February 3, 1941 (age 76)
Minneapolis, Minnesota, U.S.
Occupation Actress
Years active 1965–present
Spouse(s) Director/Producer E.W. Swackhamer (1966-1994) (his death)

Bridget Ann Elizabeth Hanley[1] (born February 3, 1941) [2] is an American actress, known for her starring and supporting roles in TV comedy, western, adventure and drama programs, including Candy Pruitt on the Western dramedy Here Come the Brides. She also starred in Harper Valley PTA as Wanda Reilly Taylor.

Early life[edit]

Born in Minneapolis, Minnesota,[3] Hanley is the daughter of Leland Hanley, an All-American football player at Northwestern University and United States Marine Corps veteran, and Doris Nihlroos.[4] She has an older sister Mary Jo and a younger sister Molly. The family moved to Edmonds, Washington, north of Seattle when Bridget was 4. After graduating from Edmonds High School, Hanley headed to San Francisco College for Women to study drama for two years then on to University of Washington whence she graduated with honors and a BA in drama, having appeared in 17 major productions, ranging from Shakespeare to Arthur Miller.


Early career[edit]

Hanley began her acting career in San Francisco, where she worked days as a secretary in an advertising agency for $50 a week while auditioning for roles in repertory theater.[5] When she landed the lead female role of Robin in a touring company production of Under the Yum Yum Tree, her weekly salary doubled. She played Robin for almost four years in theaters in San Francisco, San Diego, Los Angeles and Hollywood until Screen Gems signed her to a contract in 1966.[5]

Screen Gems' publicity materials described Hanley as a "young Maureen O'Hara."[5]

Hanley's first credited TV role was in the sitcom Hank in 1965.[6] She played Terry in the episode "My Fair Co-Ed". That was followed by credited appearances on numerous Screen Gems television series including Gidget starring Sally Field, Golden Globe winner The Farmer's Daughter starring Inger Stevens, Love on a Rooftop, Bewitched starring Elizabeth Montgomery, I Dream of Jeannie starring Barbara Eden and Larry Hagman and The Flying Nun also starring Sally Field. While working at Screen Gems, Hanley was to meet director/producer E.W. Swackhamer, whom she would later marry. She would also make several pilots for Screen Gems, including her first lead role in the series, Here Come the Brides.

Here Come the Brides[edit]

Hanley played the female lead role of Candy Pruitt in the ABC prime time series Here Come the Brides, which premiered on September 25, 1968. According to the show's producers in an interview with LA Times TV critic Cecil Smith, it was inspired by the movie Seven Brides For Seven Brothers, and was very loosely based upon the transportation of single women from the East Coast to what was then the frontier logging outpost of Seattle, which in time became a major metropolitan area of present-day Washington State. The show's theme song, "Seattle," was covered by crooner Perry Como, who enjoyed some chart success with it. Hanley's character was the love interest of Jeremy Bolt, played by then teen heartthrob Bobby Sherman; Sherman's interpretation of "Seattle" was not as successful as Como's had been.

Harper Valley PTA[edit]

Harper Valley PTA was an early 1980s American television sitcom based on the 1978 film Harper Valley PTA, which was in turn based on the 1968 song recorded by country singer Jeannie C. Riley, written by Tom T. Hall. It's the story of Stella Johnson, a door-to-door saleswoman (Barbara Eden), a single mother living in the fictional town of Harper Valley, Ohio who is trying to make ends meet and raise her daughter Dee, following the loss of her husband. The PTA of Harper Valley Junior High School, egged on by its socialite president, Flora Simpson Reilly (Anne Francine), took a dim view of Mrs. Johnson's flouting of the small town's conventions. Hanley played Wanda Reilly Taylor, a member of the snooty family that tried to rule Harper Valley.

Later career[edit]

Hanley continues to be an active performer at Theatre West, an internationally acclaimed non-profit arts organization in Hollywood, California. Established in 1962, Theatre West is the oldest continually running theatre company in Los Angeles.

She appeared in an episode of the TV series Murder, She Wrote as the wife of a serial cheating husband.

Middletown Productions [7] has created and produced “May Day Sermon”, an award-winning one-woman show based on the James Dickey poem. “Bronwen, the Traw and the Shapeshifter” is a more recent theatrical offering performed by Hanley, also based on a James Dickey poem [8]

Hanley has been a guest lecturer and performer at Radford University.[9]

Personal life[edit]

Hanley married Egbert Warndrink "E. W." Swackhamer Jr.,[5] a producer and director of Here Come The Brides, on April 26, 1969. Together they had two daughters, Bronwyn and Megan. Swackhamer died in 1994. Along with family and community members, Hanley led a drive to save the Ganahl-Hanley log cabin now in downtown Edmonds, Washington [10]

Selected filmography[edit]


  1. ^ "Bridget Hanley:Summary". Biography. Retrieved 15 November 2009. 
  2. ^ "Bridget Hanley:Summary". Biography. Retrieved 2 February 2010. 
  3. ^ "Bridget Hanley ScreenGems Biography". Bridget Hanley's Official Website. Retrieved 15 November 2009. 
  4. ^ "Save Our Cabin". Official Web Site. Retrieved 15 November 2009. 
  5. ^ a b c d Durslag, Melvin. (1969, May 10–16). She plays 'Candy' - with a difference/Bridget Hanley's character in 'Here Come the Brides' projects a wholesome, virtuous image, and she's just the one to fill the bill. TV GUIDE, pp 21-24.
  6. ^ "Bridget Hanley ScreenGems Biography". Bridget Hanley's Official Website. Retrieved 15 November 2009. 
  7. ^ "Bridget". Middletown Productions. Retrieved 15 November 2009. 
  8. ^ Heffley, Lynne (12 March 1998). "LA Times". LA Times. Retrieved 15 November 2009. 
  9. ^ "Dept. of Theater & Cinema". Radford University. Retrieved 15 November 2009. 
  10. ^ "Seattle Times". Pacific Northwest Sunday Magazine. Retrieved 15 November 2009. 

External links[edit]