Sunday, June 14, 2009

All About Eve Arden





Eve Arden as Connie Brooks


To the generation that remembers the television and radio of the early 1950’s, Eve Arden will always be Our Miss Brooks.  More than 50 years, and several TV series and a number of high profile movies later, that is probably how most people still think of her.



We’ve got hundreds of Our Miss Brooks  radio shows, a rare TV episode, and several episodes of her second TV series, the Eve Arden Show for your listening and viewing pleasure. 


But first, a little history.


Eve Arden ( Born Eunice M. Quedens April 30, 1908 – November 12, 1990) in Mill Valley, California made her film debut, as Eunice Quedens, in the backstage musical Song of Love (1929).  

She played what would become a stereotype for her early career, the wisecracking second female lead.


Five years later she would debut on Broadway in Ziegfeld's Follies, in 1934.


It wasn’t until 1937, when she was cast in Oh Doctor! and Stage Door (with Ginger Rogers, Lucille Ball, and Kathryn Hepburn) that her film career really took off.   


She would appear in the Marxs Brothers At the Circus in 1939, and make a real splash in Mildred Pierce in 1945.


But for the most part, her roles were forgettable, and slightly repetitious.   She was almost always cast as the fast talking, wise cracking, second female lead.


Some of  her credits included:


  • Cover Girl (1944) .... Cornelia 'Stonewall' Jackson
  • Hit Parade of 1943 (1943) .... Belinda Wright
  • Bedtime Story (1941) .... Virginia Cole
  • Sing for Your Supper (1941) .... Barbara Stevens
  • She Knew All the Answers (1941) .... Sally Long
  • Ziegfeld Girl (1941) .... Patsy Dixon
  • That Uncertain Feeling (1941) .... Sally Aikens (Jones' secretary)
  • Comrade X (1940) .... Jane Wilson
  • No, No, Nanette (1940) .... Kitty


    During the 1940’s Arden also appeared as a regular on Danny Kaye’s radio show,  which also featured Harry James and his Orchestra and Lionel Stander.  The series, while critically acclaimed, lasted but one year.


    It did set the scene for her being cast as Connie Brooks, the sardonic English Teacher at Madison High School in 1948.  Arden, fearing she was being typecast in films, wanted to change her image.


    The show was a hit.  


    And it featured a great many actors who would go on to become major players in the American Entertainment business.


    • Gale Gordon, who would go on to become Lucille Ball’s foil in The Lucy Show, played Osgood Conklin, the  unscrupulous and unsympathetic principal of Madison High.
    •  Richard Crenna, played Walter Denton, the teenager with the cracking voice, who would go on to star in the TV series The Real McCoys and Slattery's People, and in movies like The Sand Pebbles, Wait Until Dark, Body Heat,  and Rambo.
    • Jeff Chandler, who would die tragically at the age of 41 following back surgery, played Philip Boynton, the shy and often clueless object of Connie Brook’s affections.
    • And one of the great radio actors (and Bogart look-alike) Gerald Mohr, played  Jacques Monet, a French teacher.



    Although Arden was a big hit as Connie Brooks, legend has it that she was actually the third choice to play the role.   Supposedly, Shirley Booth was first in line, but reportedly she was too focused on the plight of underpaid school teachers to `have fun’ with the role.

    Next in line was Lucille Ball, but she was already committed to My Favorite Husband.   So the role went to Arden.


    Imagine how different TV of the 1950’s would have been if Booth or Ball had gotten the role.  Broadway would have missed one of its most successful stars of the decade and  I Love Lucy might never have been made!


    We’ve 190 episodes from the radio show (which ran 1 year beyond the TV show) available on the Internet Archive.  Click on the graphic below to go to the download page.





    And while we’re at it, here is a rare episode from the TV series, also from the Internet Archive.  Hopefully more will end up posted over time.




    "Our Miss Brooks" - Larry Berns
    "Our Miss Brooks" (1952) Premiere : 3 October 1952 (USA) Series Produced by : Larry Berns Series Directed by : Al Lewis, John Rich, William Asher Series Writing credits : Joseph Quillan, Al Lewis Series Cast : Eve Arden ... Connie Brooks / ... (131 episodes, 1952-1956) Gale Gordon ... Osgood Conklin / ... (130 episodes, 1952-1956) Jane Morgan ... Mrs Margaret Davis / ... (109 episodes, 1952-1956) Robert Rockwell .....


    Arden would go on to make another, far less successful in the late 1950’s, called The Eve Arden Show.   It actually isn’t bad, but people had trouble accepting Arden as anyone but Connie Brooks.



    'The Eve Arden Show' - It Gives Me Great Pleasure
    Episode "It Gives Me Great Pleasure" of the short-lived 50's sitcom "The Eve Arden Show". The show aired from 1957-1958. Complete with original commercials.

    Classic 50's TV: 'The Eve Arden Show' - Liza's Nightmare
    Episode of the Classic 50's TV series "The Eve Arden Show" called "Liza's Nightmare". Lasted a single season, although it wasn't too bad.

    50's TV: 'The Eve Arden Show' - 'Cover Girl'
    Episode of the 50's TV series "The Eve Arden Show" called "Cover Girl", originally broadcast either 1957 or 1958. Suitable for the whole family.

    'The Eve Arden Show' - White Elephant Sale (1957?)
    Episode of the short-lived 50's sitcom "The Eve Arden Show" called "White Elephant Sale". Features original commercials, and is suitable for the whole family.


    Arden would go on to star in another sitcom in the late 1960’s, with Kay Ballard, called The Mothers-In-Laws which ran from 1967 to 1969. During the 1970’s and 1980’s she appeared as a guest on numerous TV shows, and is well remembered for her roles as Principal McGee in Grease I and Grease II.


    Arden died in 1990, at the age of 82, after more than six decades in show business.

  • 1 comment:

    Rupert Alistair said...

    Eve Arden was just the tops! You've really hit on some Arden high notes for me here. COVER GIRL, MILDRED PIERCE, STAGE DOOR, so many more. Thanks for this glowing tribute!