Felton in 1954
|Born||July 20, 1890|
Salinas, California, U.S.
|Died||December 14, 1966 (aged 76)|
North Hollywood, California, U.S.
|Resting place||Grand View Memorial Park, Glendale, California, U.S.|
|Occupation||Actress, voice actress, radio actress|
|Known for||Original voice of Mrs. Jumbo and Elephant Matriarch in Disney's Dumbo (1941)|
Original voice of The Fairy Godmother in Disney's Cinderella (1950)
Original voice of the Queen of Hearts in Disney's Alice in Wonderland (1951)
Original voice of Aunt Sarah in Disney's Lady and the Tramp (1955)
Original voice of Flora and Queen Leah in Disney's Sleeping Beauty (1959)
Original voice of Pearl Slaghoople in Hanna-Barbera's The Flintstones (1962 - 1963)
Original voice of Winifred the Elephant in Disney's The Jungle Book (1967)
|Television||The Jack Benny Program (1939 - 1955; on radio) (1955–1962; on television)|
December Bride (1952–1953; on radio) (1954–1959; on television)
Lee Carson Millar, Sr.
(m. 1923; his death 1941)
Verna Felton (July 20, 1890 – December 14, 1966) was an American actress who was best known for providing many voices in numerous Disney animated films, as well as voicing Fred Flintstone's mother-in-law Pearl Slaghoople in Hanna-Barbera's The Flintstones (1962–1963).
She also had roles in live-action films; however, she was most active in radio programs. She was known for her husky voice and no-nonsense attitude. Two of her most famous roles were as Dennis Day's mother Mrs. Day on The Jack Benny Program (1939–1962) and as Hilda Crocker on the CBS sitcom December Bride (1952–1959).
Felton was born in Salinas, California, on July 20, 1890. Her father, a doctor, died when she was seven years old. When going over his accounts after his death, Felton's mother discovered that although 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.
An August 19, 1900, newspaper advertisement for Fischer's Concert House in San Francisco listed among the performers "Little Verna Felton, the Child Wonder." By 1903, she was acting with the Allen Stock Company, which that year toured the west coast of the United States and performed in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada. By 1907, she was still with the Allen troupe, but she had progressed from child performer to leading lady. Herbert Bashford wrote a play, The Defiance of Doris, specifically for Felton, and the Allen company included it among the group's productions in 1910.
She acted in stage plays at the Empress Theatre in Vancouver in the late 1920s, playing the lead role in Goldfish, Stella Dallas, and The Second Mrs. Tanqueray. Future husband Lee Millar directed the band for these plays.
Radio and television
Felton worked extensively in the 1930s and '50s in Hollywood radio, notably playing The Mom in The Cinnamon Bear, Junior the Mean Widdle Kid's grandmother on Red Skelton's radio series, Hattie Hirsch on Point Sublime, and Dennis Day's protective, domineering, and authoritative mother, Mrs Day, who was always looking out for him while trying to boss around Jack Benny 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 1953–55 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.
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.
Felton was the original voice of Wilma Flintstone's mother, Pearl Slaghoople, voicing the character as a semi-regular on Hanna-Barbera's The Flintstones from 1962–63. In 1963, in the series finale of CBS's Dennis the Menace sitcom, Felton played 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 becomes suspicious when Emma begins spending time with Dennis Mitchell (Jay North).
Film and animation
During the 1940s and the early 1950s, she was in demand as a character actress on films, with roles in If I Had My Way (1940), Girls of the Big House (1945), The Fuller Brush Man (1948), Buccaneer's Girl (1950), Belles on Their Toes (1952), Don't Bother to Knock (1952), and her memorable role as Mrs. Potts in the film adaptation of William Inge's stage play Picnic (1955).
- Dumbo (1941) as the Elephant Matriarch and Mrs. Jumbo, Dumbo's Mother
- Cinderella (1950) as The Fairy Godmother (a role Felton reprised in re-imaginings of the Cinderella story on the radio programs Screen Directors Playhouse (1950) and Hallmark Playhouse (1951))
- Alice in Wonderland (1951) as the Queen of Hearts
- Lady and the Tramp (1955) as Aunt Sarah, Jim Dear's aunt (Felton's son voiced Jim Dear and the dogcatcher)
- Picnic (1955) as Helen Potts, Warmly acting as surrogate mother to William Holden.
- Sleeping Beauty (1959) as Flora, the Red Fairy and Queen Leah, Princess Aurora's mother
- Goliath II (1960) as Eloise
- The Man from Button Willow (1965) as Mrs. Pomeroy, Mother and Lady on Trolley
- The Jungle Book (1967) as Winifred the Elephant (her final role, animated or live-action)
Personal life and death
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, including, coincidentally, playing Tommy Anderson's father on several episodes of Dennis the Menace between 1959-63.
Felton died at the age of 76 from a stroke in North Hollywood, California, on the evening of December 14, 1966, the day before Walt Disney died. She is interred at Grand View Memorial Park Cemetery in Glendale, California.
|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's Mother Mrs. Day|
|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|
|1942–49||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 Thought He Was Edward G. Robinson"|
|1950||Young Love||Janet's Mother Mrs. Shaw||"Visit by Janet's Mom and Jimmy's Dad"|
|1950||Screen Directors Playhouse||The Fairy Godmother||"Cinderella"|
|1951||The Hallmark Playhouse||The Fairy Godmother||'"The Story of Cinderella'"|
|1952–1953||December Bride||Hilda Crocker||Radio version|
|1952–1955||My Little Margie||Mrs. Odetts||Radio version|
|1917||The Chosen Prince, or the Friendship of David and Jonathan||Michal|
|1939||Joe and Ethel Turp Call on the President||Neighbor||Uncredited|
|1940||Northwest Passage||Mrs. Jill Towne||Uncredited|
|1940||If I Had My Way||Mrs. Abigail DeLacey||Uncredited|
|1941||Dumbo||Elephant Matriarch / Mrs. Jumbo||Voice, Uncredited|
|1945||Girls of the Big House||Agnes|
|1946||She Wrote the Book||Mrs. Lauren Kilgour||Uncredited|
|1948||The Fuller Brush Man||Junior's Grandmother||Uncredited|
|1950||Cinderella||The Fairy Godmother||Voice|
|1950||The Gunfighter||Mrs. August Pennyfeather|
|1951||New Mexico||Mrs. Fenway|
|1951||Alice in Wonderland||Queen of Hearts||Voice|
|1951||Little Egypt||Mrs. Samantha Doane|
|1952||Belles on Their Toes||Cousin Leora|
|1952||Don't Bother To Knock||Mrs. Alex Ballew|
|1955||Lady and the Tramp||Aunt Sarah||Voice|
|1955||Picnic||Mrs. Helen Potts|
|1957||The Oklahoman||Mrs. Stephanie Waynebrook|
|1957||Taming Sutton's Gal||Aunty Sutton|
|1959||Sleeping Beauty||Flora / Queen Leah||Voice|
|1960||Guns of the Timberland||Aunt Sarah|
|1965||The Man from Button Willow||Mrs. Tiffany Pomeroy, Mother, Lady on Trolley||Voice|
|1967||The Jungle Book||Winifred the Elephant||Voice, Released Posthumously, (final film role)|
|1951||The Amos 'n Andy Show||Nurse||"Kingfish Has a Baby"|
|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||Walt Disney's Disneyland||Queen of Hearts (voice, archived)||"Alice in Wonderland"|
|1954–1959||December Bride||Hilda Crocker||155 episodes|
|1955||Walt Disney's Disneyland||Mrs. Jumbo / Elephant Matriarch (voice, archived)||"Dumbo"|
|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
|1961||Miami Undercover||Aramintha||"Cukie Dog"|
|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|
|1963||Dennis the Menace||Aunt Emma||"Aunt Emma Visits the Wilsons"|
|1977||The Wonderful World of Disney||Flora / Queen Leah (voice, archived)||"Sleeping Beauty"|
|1983||The Wonderful World of Disney||Flora / Queen Leah (voice, archived)||"Sleeping Beauty"|
|1998||The Wonderful World of Disney||Flora / Queen Leah (voice, archived)||"Sleeping Beauty"|
- Walt Disney's Cinderella (1954, RCA/Camden) - The Fairy Godmother
- Disney Songs and Story: Sleeping Beauty (2012, Walt Disney Records) - Flora / Queen Leah
- Felton, Verna (January 1948). Love That Red-Head. Radio Mirror. pp. 46, 81, 82. Retrieved May 18, 2014.
- "Fischer's Concert House ad". San Francisco Call. California, San Francisco. August 19, 1900. p. 35. Retrieved 9 February 2019 – via Newspapers.com.
- "The Allen Stock Company". Petaluma Daily Morning Courier. California, Petaluma. February 2, 1903. p. 3. Retrieved 9 February 2019 – via Newspapers.com.
- "The People's Theatre". The Province. Canada, British Columbia, Vancouver. November 30, 1903. p. 8. Retrieved 9 February 2019 – via Newspapers.com.
- "At the Stock Theatres". The Oregon Daily Journal. Oregon, Portland. May 7, 1907. p. 5. Retrieved 9 February 2019 – via Newspapers.com.
- "'The Defiance of Doris'". The Leader-Post. Canada, Saskatchewan, Regina. December 19, 1910. p. 3. Retrieved 9 February 2019 – via Newspapers.com.
- Playford-Beaudet, Laurance (March 25, 2018). "Verna Felton, a brief introduction". playford-beaudet.com. grunt gallery, Vancouver BC – via posters from theatre.
- "Where's Raymond?/ The Ray Bolger Show". ctva.biz. Retrieved March 14, 2011.
- ""Aunt Emma Visits the Wilsons", July 7, 1963". Internet Movie Data Base. Retrieved February 9, 2013.
- Wilson, Scott; Mank, Gregory W. (2016). Resting Places: The Burial Sites of More Than 14,000 Famous Persons. Jefferson, N.C.: McFarland & Company. p. 238. ISBN 9780786479924.
- Terrace, Vincent. Radio Programs, 1924–84. 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