Gretchen Corbett

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Gretchen Corbett
Born Gretchen Hoyt Corbett
(1945-08-13) August 13, 1945 (age 71)
Camp Sherman, Oregon, U.S.
Residence Portland, Oregon, U.S.
Alma mater Carnegie Mellon University
Occupation Actress
Years active 1967-present
Known for The Rockford Files
Let's Scare Jessica to Death
Partner(s) Robin Gammell
Children Winslow Corbett

Gretchen Hoyt Corbett (born August 13, 1945) [1] is an American actress most noted for the role of Beth Davenport on the television series The Rockford Files from 1974 to 1978.[2] Though Corbett has predominantly worked in television, she also gained notoriety for her role in the cult horror film Let's Scare Jessica to Death (1971). She has also appeared as a recurring character on the IFC series Portlandia, beginning in 2013.

Early life[edit]

Corbett was born in 1945 in Camp Sherman, Oregon to Henry Ladd Corbett, Jr. and Katherine Minahen (née Coney) "Kay" Corbett. She is a great-great-granddaughter of Oregon pioneer and Senator Henry W. Corbett.[3] She studied drama at Pittsburgh's Carnegie Tech before its merger with the Mellon Institute of Industrial Research to form Carnegie Mellon University in 1967.


Film and television[edit]

One of Corbett's first television roles was on ABC's short-lived police detective show, N.Y.P.D., in 1968. In an episode called The Case of the Shady Lady, Corbett played a dancer who tries to make her husband's suicide into a murder for the insurance money. She had supporting roles in Out of It with Jon Voight (1969), and as a mute in Let's Scare Jessica to Death (1971).[4]

In 1973, Corbett moved to Los Angeles under contract to Universal Studios, as one of the last "contract players" of the studio contract system. Her first role under contract was an episode of the detective series Kojak: Conspiracy of Fear in 1973. She had recurring roles on Marcus Welby, M.D., Otherworld, Ellery Queen, and Love Is a Many Splendored Thing, and guest roles on such series as Wonder Woman, Emergency!, Barnaby Jones, Hawaii Five-O, Columbo: An Exercise in Fatality, Gunsmoke, McMillan & Wife, Barbary Coast, Banacek, One Day at a Time, Family, Otherworld, Murder, She Wrote, Cheers, and Magnum, P.I.[5]

The Rockford Files: 1974-1978[edit]

In 1974 Corbett joined the cast NBC's The Rockford Files where she played Beth Davenport,[2] the beleaguered lawyer and sometimes lover of series lead Jim Rockford, a private investigator portrayed by James Garner. Corbett left the series at the end of the fourth season over a salary dispute, though Corbett herself was not looking for more money. The dispute was between the show's producers and Universal, who owned Corbett's contract as a contract player. Corbett went on to do more TV work, eventually returning to play Davenport again in the Rockford Files TV movies of the 1990s.[5]

Stage work[edit]

Some of her stage appearances are After the Rain with Alec McCowen (Broadway), Forty Carats with Julie Harris (Broadway), Shakespeare's Henry VI (New York Shakespeare Festival), Shaw's Arms and the Man (The Sheridan Square), Iphigeneia at Aulis with Irene Papas (Circle in the Square), The Government Inspector with David Dukes and John Glover (The Phoenix Theatre), and The Survival of St. Joan (The Anderson Theatre).[where?]

She worked in many regional theatres, including the Long Wharf Theatre, the Berkshire Theatre Festival, the Eugene O'Neill Festival, Seattle Repertory Theatre, and the Repertory Theatre of New Orleans.[6] In 2014, she directed the production "Bo-Nita" at Portland Center Stage.[7]

Personal life[edit]

Her daughter Winslow Corbett is a stage actress.

The Haven Project[edit]

In the 2000s, Corbett served as Artistic Director of the Haven Project, a theatre project for underprivileged children in Portland, Oregon, a replication of New York's 52nd St. Project.[5]


Year Title Role Notes
1969 Out of It Barbara
1971 Let's Scare Jessica to Death The Girl
1974 The Cay The Mother Television film
1975 Knuckle Jenny Television film
1976 Farewell to Manzanar Lois Television film
1976 The Fatal Weakness Television film
1976 The Savage Bees Jeannie Deveraux Television film
1978 The Other Side of the Mountain: Part II Linda Mae Meyers
1978 Secrets of Three Hungry Wives Karen McClure Television film
1979 Mandrake Jennifer Lindsay Television film
1979 She's Dressed to Kill Jennifer Gooch Television film
1980 High Ice Liz Television film
1980 PSI Factor Lt. Sheila Foster
1981 Jaws of Satan Dr. Maggie Sheridan
1981 Time Warp Ellen Devore Television film
1982 Million Dollar Infield Carole Frische Television film
1984 Things Are Looking Up Joanne Braithwaite Television film
1985 North Beach and Rawhide Rita Aaron Television film
1991 Final Verdict Aunt Blanche Television film
1993 Moment of Truth: Why My Daughter? Mrs. Hill Television film
1995 Without Evidence Mary
1996 If the Frame Fits... Beth (Davenport) Van Zandt Television film
1996 The Rockford Files: Friends and Foul Play Beth (Davenport) Van Zandt Television film
1998 A Change of Heart Gail Stern Also known as: "A Father for Brittany"
1999 The Rockford Files: If It Bleeds... It Leads Beth Davenport Television film
2011 Motor Away Paisley Short film
2011 Bucksville Kathleen French
2012 Evelyn Evelyn Short film
Year Title Role Notes
1968 N.Y.P.D. Darlene Welby Episode: "Case of the Shady Lady"
1973 Kojak Jeri Episode: "Conspiracy of Fear"
1974 Ironside Gail Portman Episode: "The Taste of Ashes"
1974 Banacek Vicki Merrick Episode: "Now You See Me, Now You Don't"
1974 Columbo Jessica Conroy Episode: "An Exercise in Fatality"
1974 Gunsmoke Arlene Episode: "Town in Chains"
1974 Sierra Theodora Burke Episode: "The Trek"
1974-1976 Marcus Welby, M.D. Hedy Moran/Leah Blakely/Jan Allister Four episodes
1975 Hawaii Five-0 Glynis Episode: "Study in Rage"
1975 McMillan & Wife Megan McMillan Episode: "Love, Honor, and Swindle"
1975 Ellery Queen Jenny O'Brien Episode: "The Adventure of Colonel Nivin's Memoirs"
1975 Barbary Coast Lily Colt Episode: "Arson and Old Lace"
1975 Matt Helm Nancy Taylor Episode: "Murder on the Run"
1975-1976 Emergency! Mara Lynn Smith/Sue Hickman Two episodes
1976 Switch Beryl Episode: "Come Die with Me"
1976 Wonder Woman Erica Belgard Episode: "Wonder Woman vs Gargantua"
1976 Kingston Confidential Helen Drew Episode: "Welcome to Paradise"
1974-1978 The Rockford Files Beth Davenport Thirty-three episodes
1977-1978 Family Ellen Rickover Three episodes
1978 Barnaby Jones Jenny Hastings Episode: "Blind Jeopardy"
1978 W.E.B. Episode: "The Great Clowns"
1978 Lucan Bonnie Episode: "Thunder God Gold"
1981 The Misadventures of Sheriff Lobo Kathleen Dixon, Esq. Episode: "Bang, Bang... You're Dead!"
1981 One Day at a Time Sophie Episode: "Plain Favorite"
1982 Trapper John, M.D. Vivian Langtry Episode: "Victims"
1983 Cheers Gretchen Darrow Episode: "Diane's Perfect Date"
1983 Tales of the Unexpected Martha Parker Episode: "Turn of the Tide"
1983 The Mississippi Episode: "Peace With Honor"
1981-1983 Magnum, P.I. Holly Hudson/Holly Fox/Christine Richards Two episodes
1985 Otherworld June Sterling Eight episodes
1985 Simon & Simon Lisa Cambio Episode: "Burden of the Beast"
1986 Murder, She Wrote Lt. A Caruso Episode: "Deadline for Murder"
1987 21 Jump Street Jan Prentiss Episode: "Higher Education"
1989 A Peaceable Kingdom Dr. Amelia Altman Episode: "Jaguar"
1990 Hunter Mary Reynolds Episode: "Brotherly Love"
1991 The Trials of Rosie O'Neill Madeleine Episode: "The Reunion"
1995 Dead by Sunset Barbara Welch One episode
2013-2015 Portlandia Mary Eunice Oliver Two episodes


  1. ^
  2. ^ a b "Gretchen Corbett". The New York Times. 
  3. ^ The Oregonian, Friday, February 2, 2001 (Katherine C. Corbett obituary).
  4. ^ Greenspun, Roger (August 28, 1971). "Let s Scare Jessica to Death (1971) Screen: Hippie Vampire:' Let's Scare Jessica to Death' Arrives". The New York Times. 
  5. ^ a b c Gretchen Corbett on Internet Movie Database
  6. ^ "Gretchen Corbett Biography" Retrieved 20 May 2015
  7. ^ Hodde, RJ (2014-01-14). "Spotlight: "Bo-Nita" Director Gretchen Corbett". Portland Center Stage. Retrieved 2015-08-23. 

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