Elvia Allman (September 19, 1904 – March 6, 1992) was a character actress and voiceover performer in Hollywood films and television programs for over 50 years. She is best remembered for her semi-regular roles on The Beverly Hillbillies and Petticoat Junction and for being the voice of Walt Disney's Clarabelle Cow. Her mark in TV history is also ensured by her memorable performance as the stern, no-nonsense boss in the classic I Love Lucy candy factory episode "Job Switching" with a repeat appearance as Nancy Graham the reporter in the 1955 episode "The Homecoming".

Elvia Allman
Elvia Allman CBS Radio.jpg
Born(1904-09-19)September 19, 1904
DiedMarch 6, 1992(1992-03-06) (aged 87)
Resting placeForest Lawn Memorial Park, Glendale
OccupationActress, voice actress
Years active1926–1992
Wesley Benton Tourtellotte
(m. 1930; div. 1933)

C. C. Pyle
(m. 1937; died 1939)

Jerome Laveck Bayler
(m. 1945; died 1978)

Early yearsEdit

Allman was born September 19, 1904, in Enochville, North Carolina.[1]


Radio careerEdit

Elvia Allman had a long career as an actress on radio with more than 450 of her appearances spanning 1929 to 1979 surviving among old time radio buffs. Allman began her radio career in early 1926 at KHJ in Los Angeles (another source says 1930[1]) as a program arranger and children's story reader, and later as a singer. The Los Angeles Times of the day praised her abilities as a dialectician.[2] It was there she met her first husband, musician Wesley B. Tourtellotte, in 1930. They divorced within several years. New York beckoned in 1933, where she did a 15-minute network program of songs. On Oct. 30, 1933, the Times announced she was moving to KNX on a 15-minute program to be heard Tuesday and Thursday evenings. What was supposed to be a long-term contract ended March 3, 1935.

Allman's first big network radio successes were on the Blue Monday Jamboree (where she portrayed beauty expert Auntie MacCasser, high society matron Octavia Smith-Whiffen, and home economist Pansy Pennypincher),[3] and on The Komedy Kingdom (as "Elvia, The Queen of Mirth"). She made her debut on The Pepsodent Show starring Bob Hope on September 27, 1938, as man-chasing Cobina, a parody of society debutante Cobina Wright. She portrayed the role in motion pictures and even spoofed it in the Merrie Melodies cartoon Goofy Groceries. Allman was frequently heard as a supporting actress in various comedy programs well into the 1950s and in the 1970s returned to radio acting with its brief revival of new programs.

In the mid-1930s, Allman appeared in cartoons for producer Leon Schlesinger, released through Warner Bros. She can be heard in the first Porky Pig cartoon I Haven't Got a Hat in 1935. She may have originated the character of Clarabelle Cow prior to this, but there are no records indicating which specific cartoons in which she voiced Clarabelle, who was featured in 28 Disney cartoons from 1928 to 1942. In 1937 Allman voiced the title role in the cartoon Little Red Walking Hood, a spoof of Little Red Riding Hood. Allman married sports promoter C. C. Pyle on July 3, 1937 and was with him when he died on February 3, 1939.

Allman also played Tootsie Sagwell on The George Burns and Gracie Allen Show during the early 1940s.[4] She was Gracie's best friend who was constantly chasing show announcer Bill Goodwin in particular but seemed to be open to any man who'd have her.

Acting careerEdit

Allman made her film debut as an actress in 1940's The Road to Singapore in an unbilled bit (as were the majority of Allman's motion picture appearances in the '40s) as a homely woman who pursues Bob Hope. Another memorable bit was as one of the several psychotics Abbott & Costello run into when trying to find the Susquehanna Hat Co. (on Bagel St.) in "In Society" (1944). She worked most successfully during this period as a radio comedian playing assorted guest parts, typically as a shrewish woman. One of her more steady radio gigs was on the Blondie radio series in the part of Cora Dithers, the domineering wife of Dagwood Bumstead's boss.

Allman became a familiar face to television viewers in the 1950s with numerous guest appearances on many programs of the era, usually situation comedies. She made multiple appearances on I Married Joan, December Bride, The Bob Cummings Show, and The Abbott and Costello Show, and three appearances on I Love Lucy.

In 1957, she reprised her role of Cora Dithers in a short-lived TV adaption of Blondie. Allman had earlier played the role in the 1940's on several episodes of the Blondie radio series. She also appeared on seven episodes of the TV series The Jack Benny Program, having worked often with Benny on his radio program in the 1940s and 1950s.

Her visibility on television increased in the 1960s with guest shots on The Dick Van Dyke Show, Hazel, The Addams Family, The Munsters, Mr Ed, Bewitched, The Lucy Show, The Doris Day Show, The Andy Griffith Show, and as witness Julia Slovak in the fifth season, 1961 Perry Mason episode, "The Case of the Brazen Bequest". Allman's greatest fame came with her semi-regular roles on Petticoat Junction, as local busybody Selma Plout (14 appearances, 1965–1970) and a near-duplicate character, Elverna Bradshaw on The Beverly Hillbillies (13 appearances, one in 1963, the rest 1968-1970). The 1960s proved to be her most prolific era with 58 appearances on various television series as well as five motion pictures including Breakfast at Tiffany's and The Nutty Professor.

She appeared as Oscar Madison's mother in one episode of the TV series The Odd Couple in which she and Oscar are treated to an erotic belly dance at a Greek restaurant. Allman's career slowed considerably after 1972, and her only television work that decade was the 1977 television film Halloween with the New Addams Family. Her career revived a bit in the 1980s with eleven television appearances, including two appearances on Murder She Wrote. Allman also worked as a real estate agent in addition to her acting in the 1970s and 1980s. In her autobiography, Mary Tyler Moore credits Allman with finding her house.

Allman's final work appropriately brought her full circle, reviving the voice of Clarabelle Cow for the first time in over 50 years in the Mickey Mouse cartoon feature version of The Prince and the Pauper in 1990.


Allman died in Santa Monica, California, March 6, 1992,[1] from pneumonia, aged 87. She was predeceased by her last husband, Jerome L. Bayler, in 1978.


Year Title Role Notes
1940 Road to Singapore Homely Girl Uncredited
1940 A Night at Earl Carroll's Cobina Gusher
1940 Melody for Three Radio Station Receptionist Uncredited
1941 Sis Hopkins Ripple
1941 Time Out for Rhythm Cobrina
1941 Swing It Soldier Cobina
1942 Sweetheart of the Fleet Cobina (as Brenda & Cobina)
1943 Three Hearts for Julia Eva Uncredited
1944 In Society Hysterical Widow Uncredited
1944 A Wave, a WAC and a Marine Elvira Allman - Woman in Cab
1944 Carolina Blues Loud Kyser Fan Uncredited
1948 The Noose Hangs High Woman Uncredited
1951 Week-End with Father Mrs. G.
1956 The Kettles in the Ozarks Meek Man's Wife Uncredited
1956 You Can't Run Away from It Ma, Vernon's Wife
1961 The Pleasure of His Company Mrs. Mooney
1961 Breakfast at Tiffany's Librarian
1963 The Nutty Professor Edwina Kelp
1963 Johnny Cool Beauty Salon Receptionist Uncredited
1964 Honeymoon Hotel Mrs. Sampson
1967 Eight on the Lam Neighbor Uncredited


  1. ^ a b c DeLong, Thomas A. (1996). Radio Stars: An Illustrated Biographical Dictionary of 953 Performers, 1920 through 1960. McFarland & Company, Inc. ISBN 978-0-7864-2834-2. P. 10.
  2. ^ "Los Angeles Times: Archives - ATTRACTIONS OF WEEK FORECAST". Pqasb.pqarchiver.com. 1926-11-16. Retrieved 2013-12-07.
  3. ^ "RadioArchives.com". RadioArchives.com. Retrieved 2013-12-07.
  4. ^ Elliott, Jordan (Summer 2016). "O Brother, Where Art Thou". Nostalgia Digest. 42 (3): 4–9.

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