Sarah Hope Summers
June 7, 1902
Mattoon, Illinois, U.S.
|Died||June 22, 1979 (aged 77)|
|Resting place||Mountain View Cemetery, Walla Walla, Washington, U.S.|
|Other names||Hope Sommers|
Claude James Witherell
(m. 1927; died 1967)
Sarah Hope Summers (June 7, 1902 – June 22, 1979), better known as Hope Summers, was an American character actress known for her work on CBS's The Andy Griffith Show and Mayberry RFD, portraying Clara Edwards.
Hope Summers was born in Mattoon, Illinois, the daughter of the town doctor, and future U.S. Representative, John W. Summers and Jennie (née Burks). She was reared in Illinois and later in Walla Walla, Washington, where her father was elected to the House. Summers attended Northwestern University in Evanston, Illinois, graduating in 1923 from its Northwestern School of Speech. She stayed in Evanston, teaching speech and diction, then moved to Peoria, Illinois in 1926 when she became the head of the Speech Department at Bradley University. While in Peoria, Summers started giving private acting lessons and became involved as a volunteer, and soon a director, in local theatre.
A regional actress who often performed in one-woman shows starting in the 1930s, Summers did not break into network television until her mid 50s, when she made her debut in 1951 on the soap opera Hawkins Falls, broadcast from Chicago. While she had a few uncredited background roles in short films, she did not make her first Hollywood feature film until 1957, with a small credited role in Zero Hour!. She continued in films as a character player.
Summers first attracted attention in 1958 in the semi-regular role as Hattie Denton on the western series The Rifleman, starring Chuck Connors. She guest starred on dozens of series including Maverick, Wagon Train, State Trooper, Rescue 8, Peter Gunn, Dennis the Menace, It's a Man's World, Mr. Smith Goes to Washington, Hazel, Gunsmoke, The Danny Thomas Show, M*A*S*H (TV series), My Three Sons, Petticoat Junction, Love on a Rooftop, The Pruitts of Southampton, The Second Hundred Years, Adam-12 and The Paul Lynde Show, and was a regular in the cast of the short-lived 1978 situation comedy Another Day. She made thirty-six appearances on the Andy Griffith Show, playing Aunt Bee's best friend, during the 1960s, and made five appearances on the post-Griffith spinoff, Mayberry R.F.D..
While her film work usually was in quite small parts, often unbilled, but she had a credited part as Mrs. Gilmore, one of the kindlier members of the witches' coven at the heart of Roman Polanski's 1968 film classic, Rosemary's Baby.
For nearly 20 years, from 1961 until her death, Summers was the voice of Mrs. Butterworth in the Mrs. Butterworth's syrup commercials.
Summers met local businessman Claude James Witherell in 1926, the year she moved to Peoria to teach; the couple married in 1927 and had two children together.
Witherell died in 1967. Summers continued acting until 1978; she died the following year, at age 77, from congestive heart failure. She was living in Woodland Hills, Los Angeles, California at the time. Summers is interred at Mountain View Cemetery in Walla Walla, Washington in the Masonic Section.
|1951–1952||Hawkins Falls||Belinda Catherwood||Unknown episodes|
|1957||Alfred Hitchcock Presents||Mrs. Gillespie's housekeeper||Episode: "End of the Indian Summer"|
|1957||Private Secretary||Della Loganbury||Episode: "Not Quite Paradise"|
|1957||Zero Hour!||Mrs. Summers|
|1957||Wagon Train||Unnamed passenger||Episode: "The Ruth Owens Story"|
|1958||Wagon Train||Mae O'Malley||Episode: "The Luke O'Malley Story"|
|1958||I Want to Live!||Ethel, Policewoman on bus||Uncredited|
|1958–1960||The Rifleman||Hattie Denton||16 episodes|
|1959||Maverick||Martha Abbott||Episode: "Brasada Spur"|
|1959||Rescue 8||Dora||Episode: "If the Bough Breaks"|
|1959||Hound-Dog Man||Jewell Crouch|
|1959||Edge of Eternity||Motel Attendant||Uncredited|
|1960||Inherit the Wind||Mrs. Krebs - Righteous Townswoman|
|1961||Angel Baby||Roman at Revival Meeting||Uncredited|
|1961||Homicidal||Mrs. Martha Adrims||Uncredited|
|1961||Claudelle Inglish||Ernestine Peasley||Uncredited|
|1961||The Children's Hour||Agatha (Tilford's maid)||Alternative title: The Loudest Whisper|
|1961–1968||The Andy Griffith Show||Clara Edwards||32 episodes|
|1962||The Couch||Mrs. Quimby|
|1962||Rome Adventure||Mrs. St. Uwell||Uncredited|
Alternative title: Lovers Must Learn
|1962||It's a Man's World||The Salvation Army Woman||Episode: "Drive over to Exeter"|
|1963||Spencer's Mountain||Mother Ida|
|1964||My Living Doll||Edwina||Episode: "I'll Leave It to You"|
|1964||One Man's Way||Mrs. Elwood Thompson|
|1964||Hazel||Edna||Episode: "Hot Potato a la Hazel"|
|1965||The Hallelujah Trail||Mrs. Hasselrad|
|1965||Petticoat Junction||Mabel Denton||Episode: "The Crowded Wedding Ring"|
|1966||The Ghost and Mr. Chicken||Suzanna Blush||Uncredited|
|1968–1970||Mayberry R.F.D.||Clara Edwards||5 episodes|
|1968||Rosemary's Baby||Mrs. Gilmore|
|1968||The Shakiest Gun in the West||Celia|
|1968||5 Card Stud||Female customer in general store||Uncredited|
|1969||The Learning Tree||Mrs. Kiner|
|1970||Marcus Welby, M.D.||Mrs. Whittaker||Episode: "Epidemic"|
|1970||Bewitched||Carolyn||Episode: "Samantha's Old Man"|
|1971||Hawaii Five-O||Minnie Leona Moroney||Episode: "The Bomber and Mrs. Moroney"|
|1972||Get to Know Your Rabbit||Mrs. Beeman|
|1972||Where Does It Hurt?||Nurse Throttle|
|1973||Ace Eli and Rodger of the Skies||Laura|
|1973||M*A*S*H||Nurse Meg Cratty||Episode: "The Trial of Henry Blake"|
|1973||Charley Varrick||Mess Vesta||Alternative title: Kill Charley Varrick|
|1974||Our Time||Biology Teacher||Starsky and Hutch|
|1975||Chico and the Man||Lucille Nelson||Episode: "Garage Sale"|
|1975||Welcome Back, Kotter||Ms. Riley||Episode: "Mr. Kotter, Teacher"|
|1976||Little House on the Prairie||Addie Bjornesen||Episode: "The Collection"|
|1977||Evil Town||Alice Wylie|
|1978||Another Day||Olive Gardner||Regular cast member (4 episodes)|
|1978||Smokey and the Good Time Outlaws||Marcie||(final film role)|
- Couri, Dr. Peter J. (2012-03-01). "Hope Summers: Rifles, Pickles & Rosemary's Baby". The Peorian. Retrieved 2020-03-10.
- Robertson, Dale; Fernandes, David (1996). The Definitive Andy Griffith Show Reference. McFarland Publishing. ISBN 978-0786401369. Retrieved 2020-03-10.
- Gallagher, Pat (2012-09-04). "Rest in Peace, Cast of The Andy Griffith Show". Huffington Post. Retrieved 2020-03-10.
- Maltin, Leonard (2015) [First published 1969]. "Hope Summers". The Real Stars : Profiles and Interviews of Hollywood's Unsung Featured Players (softcover) (Sixth / eBook ed.). Great Britain: CreateSpace Independent. pp. 247–255. ISBN 978-1-5116-4485-3.