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Subject: Archive: Madge Blake, Feb. 19, 1969


Author:
Actress ("Aunt Harriet")
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Date Posted: Tuesday, February 19, 12:56:12pm

Madge Blake (née Cummings; May 31, 1899 – February 19, 1969) was an American character actress best remembered for her role as Larry Mondello's mother, Margaret Mondello, on the CBS/ABC sitcom Leave it to Beaver, as Flora MacMichael on the ABC/CBS sitcom The Real McCoys, and as Aunt Harriet Cooper in 96 episodes of ABC's Batman. Gene Kelly had a special affection for her and included her in each of his films following her role in An American in Paris.

Contents

Early life
Blake was born in Kinsley in Edwards County, south-central Kansas, to Albert Cummings and the former Alice Stone. Her father was a Methodist circuit rider who discouraged her from becoming an actress, thus she did not enter acting until later in life, despite her family's relocation from Kansas to Southern California.

During World War II, Blake and her husband James Lincoln Blake worked in Utah on construction of the detonator for the atomic bomb and performed such jobs as testing equipment destined for the Manhattan Project.[citation needed] The couple received a citation for their work from the U.S. government.

Although five years his senior, Blake was a niece of actor Milburn Stone, who filled the role of Doc Adams on CBS's Gunsmoke Western series.

She did not begin to study acting until she was 50 years old, when she enrolled at the Pasadena Playhouse and took advantage of whatever influence or contacts Milburn Stone had to land acting roles. In the middle 1950s, Blake appeared on Rod Cameron's City Detective syndicated crime drama and in Ray Milland's sitcom, Meet Mr. McNutley, renamed in the second season as The Ray Milland Show.

Blake appeared in four episodes of the NBC sitcom It's a Great Life (1954–1956) and twice on CBS's December Bride, with Spring Byington.

Acting career

Blake portrayed gushy gossip columnist Dora Bailey in Singin' in the Rain (1952) and was a model for one of the fairies in Walt Disney's animated version of Sleeping Beauty (1959). She appeared as Mrs. Porter, a babysitter, in the 1959 pilot of CBS's Dennis the Menace. About this time, she was cast in a guest-starring role in the sitcoms, Guestward, Ho!, with Joanne Dru on ABC, and Angel, with Annie Fargé on CBS. In 1961, she guest-starred in the episode "A View of Murder" of the syndicated crime drama The Brothers Brannagan. Blake's Flora MacMichael was a romantic foil to Walter Brennan's Grandpa Amos McCoy on The Real McCoys, a situation comedy about a West Virginia mountain family that relocated to Southern California.

Prior to her role in Batman, she had a recurring role on The Jack Benny Program as the president of the Jack Benny Fan Club - Pasadena Chapter. She played Millie Brinkerhoff in the episode "Instant Wedding" in the 1963 NBC military drama The Lieutenant starring Gary Lockwood in the title role. Blake appeared in the pilot episode of The Addams Family (broadcast in the U.S in September 1964) as Miss Comstock, an official from the Addams' children's school. Blake also appeared in a memorable episode of I Love Lucy in 1957 with George Reeves guest-starring as Superman and in an earlier episode in 1954 as store clerk, Mrs. Mulford.

She played the mother of Joey Barnes on the Joey Bishop show from 1961 to 1964. At one point, the producers of Batman wanted to fire Blake for unknown reasons. Adam West, with whom she had become friends, stood up for her and she kept her job. The next day, he found a freshly baked cake in his dressing room.

Declining health and death

Declining health caused Blake's role as Aunt Harriet to be reduced, and with the introduction of Batgirl in the third and final season of Batman, she appeared in only two episodes that season in a guest role. Shortly before her death, she appeared as Mrs. Hardy in the episode "The Con Man" of the CBS sitcom, The Doris Day Show.

Blake was admitted to Huntington Memorial Hospital where she passed away at age 69, the result of a heart attack. She was interred beside her mother in the family plot at Grand View Memorial Park Cemetery.

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Replies:
Subject Author Date
Here are more details on the Career and Death (50 years ago today) of veteran character actress Miss Blake. ...Interesting!Tuesday, February 19, 03:15:27pm
I dunno why I loved Blake's small role/performance as Lucy's 'Aunt Anastacia' in the forgetable Lucy/Desi feature film, "The Long, Long Trailer" (1954)! ..."...You tore down my roses with your lousy, stinking trailer!" ~Aunt AnastaciaWednesday, February 20, 01:58:35pm


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