Long before Mary Tyler Moore came along and proved that a woman every bit as capable as a man was at getting things done in the workplace. Eve Arden a female force to be reckoned with playing the sardonic and ever-so witty school teacher Miss Brooks in the radio and television series that bore her name.
The beloved classic sitcom got it’s start as a radio serial in 1948 that ran until 1957. In 1952, the series adapted for television. Thus becoming one of the medium’s first big success stories. Millions of Americans tuned in to CBS every week for four years to see what Eve and her fellow castmates were up to. In 1956, the television incarnation of the series was adapted for the big screen in a full-length feature film.
What really made Our Miss Brooks such a momentous success was it’s powerful and perfectly balanced cast. Eve Arden wasn’t the only bit of talent that resonated with audiences. Gale Gordon, who played the domineering, crooked, and uncongenial principal Osgood Conklin also an incredibly gifted actor who served as the perfect foil for Miss Brook’s cunning ways.
Then you had Robert Rockwell, who played the shy and utterly clueless object of Miss Brooks’ affection. Madison High School biology teacher Phillip Boynton. Richard Crenna played the clumsy yet well-intentioned student Walter Denton, and Jane Morgan played Miss Brooks’ absentminded landlord Margaret Davis. Other actors who made appearances in the series included Jane Morgan, Gloria McMillan, and Mary Jane Croft.
While we could easily devote an entire video to detailing the many reasons why Our Miss Brooks shined as a series. In this video, we’ll be taking a few minutes to pay our respects to the show’s cast members, who have all since passed away. These were all shining souls who injected so much of their creative energy and passion into their phenomenal performances.
Obviously, a good starting point would be to focus on the star of the show herself, Eve Arden. So, join Facts Verse as we reflect on the lives and careers of the bright minds who helped create one of television’s first hit series, our miss brooks.
Eve Arden – Constance “Connie” Brooks
Born Eunice Mary Quedens on April 30, 1908, in Mill Valley, California. Arden got her start acting shortly after leaving high school at the age of 16 when she joined a stock theater company run by Henry Terry Duffy. After developing her acting chops, Arden made her film debut under her birth name in the 1929 musical Song of Love.
The film ended up being one of Columbia Pictures’ early hits. In 1933, Arden moved to New York City where she landed several supporting roles in Broadway productions. The following year, she cast in the famous Ziegfeld Follies Revue. This role would the first in which she was credited under her stage name.
She came up with the moniker while looking at cosmetic products. She took the first name Eve from Evening in Paris and borrowed her surname from Elizabeth Arden.
From the mid-30s to the early 40s She appeared in Broadway productions like Very Warm for May, Parade, and Let’s Face It.
Arden scored her first screen role in 1937 when she signed a contract with RKO. For the next several years, she appeared in films like Stage Door, Oh Doctor, and Having Wonderful Time. The latter of which saw her sharing the screen with Lucile Ball and Ginger Rogers.
From there, she was off to the races, appearing in films with heavy-hitters like Clark Gable, Marlene Dietrich. And even the late-great Red Skelton.
The 40s very productive for Arden, but perhaps the most significant role of her career came in 1948 when she cast to play Connie Brooks on the radio version of Our Miss Brooks. She would of course continue to play this iconic role even after the program made the leap to television and eventually the big screen.
Later on in her career, post-Our Miss Brooks, Arden gave phenomenal performances as the school principal in the musicals Grease and Grease 2. And which hit theaters respectively in 1978 and 1982.
As far as her personal life went, Arden married twice. First to Edward Grinnell Bergen in 1939 and the second time to Brooks West in 1952. With West, she remained by his side until his death in 1984.
Arden passed away just six years after West on November 12, 1990. She was 84 years old when she died in her home in Westwood, California, after going into cardiac arrest. According to her death certificate, she met this demise due to having arteriosclerotic heart disease.
Before we take a look at the rest of the Our Miss Brooks cast, take a moment to show us a little love so that we can keep bringing you facts-packed videos like this. Give us a like, subscribe to the channel, and turn on notifications by tapping the bell.
Gale Gordon – Osgood Conkin
Gale was born on the 20th of February, 1906, in New York City. He raised in a theater family, with his father being the vaudevillian Charles Thomas Aldrich. And his mother, English actress Gloria Gordon.
Gale landed his first big break when he cast in the recurring roles of Mayor La Trivia and Foggy Williams on the radio serial Fibber McGee and Molly.
While Gordon was quite famous for his role as the dastardly school principal Osgood Conklin in both the radio and television versions of Our Miss Brooks. Gale Gordon best known for playing Lucille Ball’s longtime foil, Theodore J. Mooney on The Lucy Show. He also appeared in Desilu’s I Love Lucy, Here’s Lucy, and Life with Lucy.
Gordon died of lung cancer at the age of 89 on the 30th of June, 1985. It is at Redwood Terrace Health Center in Escondido, California. Just one month prior, his wife of nearly six decades, Virginia Curley, passed away in that very same hospital. Gordon died childless yet, by all accounts, quite satisfied with how his life turned out.
Robert Rockwell – Phillip Boynton
This American stage, radio, film, and TV actor best known for playing the awkward yet incredibly handsome biology teacher Phillip Boynton on both the radio and TV incarnations of Our Miss Brooks.
The Lake Bluff, Illinois-native was born on October 12, 1920, and studied at the Pasadena Playhouse. After serving in the Navy for four years in World War II, Rockwell began his acting career as a contract player with Republic Studios.
Throughout his remarkably active career, Rockwell appeared in more than 350 TV episodes, films, and Broadway productions. Although he so associated with his role on Our Miss Brooks that dramatic roles often evaded him.
He died of cancer on January 25, 2003. It is at his home in Malibu alongside his wife Elizabeth at the age of 82. He survived by his five children.
Richard Crenna – Walter Denton
This Emmy Award-winning film, television, and radio actor never seemed to take a break from acting. Once he discovered he had a knack for performance, he threw himself into his craft full sail.
He’s given his first big breakthrough role in 1948 when he was cast as the high school student Walter Denton on Our Miss Brooks. He retained that role even as the series transitioned over to its television incarnation and ultimately for it’s feature film.
After Our Miss Brooks, Crenna starred as Luke McCoy in the ABC TV series The Real McCoys from 1957 to 1963.
TV and radio were always good for Crenna. He also appeared in films such as The Sand Pebbles, Un Flic, Wait Untill Dark, and the first three Rambo films.
Crenna eventually developed pancreatic cancer and died of heart failure on January 17, 2003, at Cedars Sinai Medical Center. He was 76.
Just eight days later, his Our Miss Brooks co-star Robert Rockwell passed away.
Jane Morgan – Margaret Davis
This English actress was born on the 6th of December, 1880, in Warmley, Gloucestershire, England. She’s best known for playing Connie Brooks’ nosey landlady Margaret Davis on Our Miss Brooks.
Jane Morgan born in England to Welsh Parents. She moved along with her family to Boston, Massachusetts, when she was just a year old. She studied at the prestigious New England Conservatory of Music and got her start performing with the Boston Opera Company.
By 1990, she was living with her brother and widowed father in Anaconda, Montana. It is where she became a familiar face in the Amateur theater scene. A decade later, she started touring in dramas and musicals such as The Master Mind, The Temporary Husband, and The Silent Voice.
In the 30s, she began working on radio plays and serials. After appearing on programs like The Walls Come Tumbling Down and The Horn Blows at Midnight. She landed her signature role on Our Miss Brooks.
Morgan died at the age of 91 on New Years’ Day 1972 in North Hollywood, California, after a long drawn-out battle with heart disease.
The Remainder of the Our Miss Brooks Cast
Born on March 13, 1933, Gloria McMillan played Harriet Conklin, the daughter of Principal Osgood Conklin on Our Miss Brooks. She’s the most recent cast member to pass away when she lost her battle with cancer of the bile duct at the age of 88 on January 19, 2022.
Mary Jane Croft born on the 15th of February, 1916. And played Miss Daisy Enright on both the radio and television incarnations of Our Miss Brooks. She also known for her roles as Betsy Ramsey on I Love Lucy, Mary Jane Lewis on Here’s Lucy and The Lucy Show, and Clara Randolph on The Adventures of Ozzie and Harriet. She died of natural causes on August 24, 1999, at the age of 83, in Century City, California.
Isabel Randolph was a late addition to the Our Miss Brooks cast. And introduced as the new school principal Ruth Nestor in the November 4, 1955 episode ‘Big Ears’. She died of an unknown cause at the age of 83 in Burbank, California, on January 11, 1973.
That about wraps up the cast list of Our Miss Brooks. There were a few other minor characters that appeared on the program over the years. But everyone we just discussed had relatively prominent roles on the program.
Who was your favorite cast member of Our Miss Brooks, and did you know that it was one of the first hit television series in the early days of the medium? Share your thoughts on the groundbreaking series in the comments.
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