Madge Blake (née Cummings; May 31, 1899 – February 19, 1969)[1][2] 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.[citation needed]

Madge Blake
Blake in the television
series The Public Defender in "Failure", 1955
Born
Madge Cummings

(1899-05-31)May 31, 1899
DiedFebruary 19, 1969(1969-02-19) (aged 69)
Resting placeGrand View Memorial Park Cemetery
OccupationActress
Years active1946–1969
SpouseJames Lincoln Blake
Children2
RelativesMilburn Stone (1st cousin),
Fred Stone (uncle)

Early life

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Blake and her husband James Lincoln Blake received a citation for some of their work from the U.S. government.[3]

Blake was a first cousin of actor Milburn Stone (her mother and his father were sister and brother), who played the role of Doc Adams on Gunsmoke Western series.[4]

Acting career

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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.

Blake portrayed gushy gossip columnist Dora Bailey in Singin' in the Rain (1952). In the mid-1950s, she appeared on Rod Cameron's City Detective 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. Blake was a model for one of the fairies (Fauna) in Walt Disney's animated version film Sleeping Beauty (1959).[citation needed]

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.

Between 1957 and 1963, Blake had a recurring role as Flora MacMichael, the romantic interest of Walter Brennan's Grandpa Amos McCoy on The Real McCoys, a sitcom about a mountain family that relocated to Southern California. In 1960, she guest-starred in "Tom Cuts Off the Credit," the premiere episode of the sitcom The Tom Ewell Show. The following year, she guest-starred in the episode "A View of Murder" of the syndicated crime drama The Brothers Brannagan.

Before her role on 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, and Larry Mondello's mother on Leave It to Beaver. 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

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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 died 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.[5]

Filmography

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References

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  1. ^ The Wichita Eagle
  2. ^ Kansas Historical Society
  3. ^ Office of Scientific Research and Development website; accessed May 6, 2014.
  4. ^ Beccy Tanner (August 20, 2012). "Madge Blake stood out in small roles". The Wichita Eagle. Retrieved July 29, 2014.
  5. ^ *Ellenberger, Allan R. (2001). Celebrities in Los Angeles Cemeteries: A Directory. Jefferson, N.C.: McFarland & Company. p. 103. ISBN 9780786409839.
  6. ^ "Aunt Mary", Liquid Paper, University of Pittsburgh Press, pp. 94–94, retrieved October 31, 2022
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