Felton in 1954
July 20, 1890
Salinas, California, U.S.
|Died||December 14, 1966
North Hollywood, California, U.S.
Cause of death
|Grandview Memorial Park, Glendale, California, U.S.|
|Spouse(s)||Lee Carson Millar, Sr.
(1923–1941) (his death)
Verna Felton (July 20, 1890 – December 14, 1966) was an American character actress who was best known for providing many female voices in numerous Walt Disney Pictures animated films, as well as voicing Fred Flintstone's mother-in-law Pearl Slaghoople for Hanna-Barbera's The Flintstones.
She also had roles on 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 Mrs. Day, the protective and domineering mother, who was always looking after her son Dennis Day and trying to boss around Jack Benny on The Jack Benny Program and as Hilda Crocker on December Bride.
Felton was born in Salinas, California. Her father, a doctor, died when she was seven years old. When going over his accounts after his death, Felton's mother discovered that though 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.
Radio and television
She also worked extensively in 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 mother 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 1953-1955 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.
In 1963, in the series finale of CBS's Dennis the Menace sitcom, Felton played character 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 then becomes suspicious when Emma begins spending time with series protagonist Dennis Mitchell (Jay North).
During the 1940s and the early 1950s, Felton 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 of Mrs. Potts in the film of William Inge's Picnic (1955).
Disney and MGM
Felton was a popular actress at the Walt Disney Studios and MGM Studios, lending her voice to several animated features, including:
- Dumbo (1941) as the Elephant Matriarch and Mrs. Jumbo, Dumbo's Mother
- Cinderella (1950) as The Fairy Godmother
- Alice in Wonderland (1951) as the Queen of Hearts
- Lady and the Tramp (1955) as Aunt Sarah
- Sleeping Beauty (1959) as Flora and Queen Leah
- Goliath II (1960) as Eloise
- The Man from Button Willow 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. Felton died of a stroke on the evening of December 14, 1966, the day before Walt Disney died. She enjoyed a film career stretching nearly fifty years, and 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' 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|
|1942-1949||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 Though 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"|
|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||If I Had My Way||Mrs. DeLacey||Uncredited|
|1940||Northwest Passage||Mrs. Towne||Uncredited|
|1941||Dumbo||Elephant Matriarch, Mrs. Jumbo||Uncredited|
|1945||Girls of the Big House||Agnes|
|1946||She Wrote the Book||Mrs. Kilgour||Uncredited|
|1948||The Fuller Brush Man||Junior's Grandmother|
|1950||The Gunfighter||Mrs. August Pennyfeather|
|1950||Cinderella||The Fairy Godmother|
|1951||Little Egypt||Mrs. Doane|
|1951||Alice in Wonderland||Queen of Hearts|
|1952||Don't Bother To Knock||Mrs. Ballew|
|1952||Belles on Their Toes||Cousin Leora|
|1955||Lady and the Tramp||Aunt Sarah|
|1957||The Oklahoman||Mrs. Waynebrook|
|1959||Sleeping Beauty||Flora, Queen Leah|
|1965||The Man from Button Willow||Mrs. Pomeroy, Mother, Lady on Trolley|
|1967||The Jungle Book||Winifred the Elephant||Released Posthumously|
|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|
|1954-1959||December Bride||Hilda Crocker||155 episodes|
|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"|
- Felton, Verna (January 1948). Love That Red-Head. Radio Mirror. pp. 46, 81, 82. Retrieved May 18, 2014.
- "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.
- Terrace, Vincent. Radio Programs, 1924–1984. 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
- Verna Felton at the Internet Movie Database
- Verna Felton at Find a Grave
- portrait gallery(NY Public Library, Billy Rose collection)