Verna Arline Felton (July 20, 1890 – December 14, 1966) was an American actress who provided voices for numerous Disney animated films.

Verna Felton
Felton in 1960 as "Hilda Crocker" from the television program Pete and Gladys.
Verna Arline Felton

(1890-07-20)July 20, 1890
DiedDecember 14, 1966(1966-12-14) (aged 76)
Resting placeGrand View Memorial Park Cemetery
Years active1900–1966
Known forVoice of Mrs. Jumbo and Elephant Matriarch in Disney's Dumbo (1941)
Voice of The Fairy Godmother in Disney's Cinderella (1950)
Voice of the Queen of Hearts in Disney's Alice in Wonderland (1951)
Voice of Aunt Sarah in Disney's Lady and the Tramp (1955)
Voice of Flora in Disney's Sleeping Beauty (1959)
Voice of Pearl Slaghoople in Hanna-Barbera's The Flintstones (1962–1963)
Voice of Winifred the Elephant in Disney's The Jungle Book (1967)
TelevisionThe Jack Benny Program (1939–1955; on radio) (1955–1962; on television)
December Bride (1952–1953; on radio) (1954–1959; on television)
Lee Carson Millar Sr.
(m. 1923; died 1941)

She also provided the voice for Fred Flintstone's mother-in-law, Pearl Slaghoople in Hanna-Barbera's The Flintstones (1962–1963) and had roles in live-action films. However, she was most active in radio programs, where her characters were known for their husky voices and no-nonsense attitudes. Two of her most famous roles were as Dennis Day's mother, Mrs. Day on both radio and television versions of The Jack Benny Program (1939–1962) and as Hilda Crocker on December Bride (1952–1959).

Felton's television appearances included The George Burns and Gracie Allen Show, I Love Lucy, Where's Raymond?, Pete and Gladys and Dennis the Menace.

Early years edit

Verna Arline Felton was born in Salinas, California, on July 20, 1890. Her father, Horace Wilcox Felton, a doctor, died shortly before her ninth birthday. When going over his accounts after his death, Felton's mother Clara Winder Felton (née Lawrence) discovered that although her husband had a large medical practice in San Jose, there were no records of his patients' payments for treatment and no cash in the office.[citation needed]

Shortly before her father's death, Felton had performed in a local benefit for victims of the Galveston Flood. Her singing and dancing attracted the attention of a manager of a road show company that was playing in San Jose at the time. The manager spoke to Felton's mother, offering to give Felton a job with his company. Since the family was experiencing difficult financial times with the loss of Felton's father, her mother contacted the road show manager. Felton quickly joined the cast of the show, growing up in the theater.[1]

Early career edit

An August 19, 1900, newspaper advertisement for Fischer's Concert House in San Francisco listed among the performers "Little Verna Felton, the Child Wonder."[2] By 1903, she was acting with the Allen Stock Company,[3] which that year toured the West Coast of the United States and performed in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada.[4] By 1907, she was still with the Allen troupe, but she had progressed from child performer to leading lady.[5] Herbert Bashford wrote a play, The Defiance of Doris, specifically for Felton, and the Allen company included it among the group's productions in 1910.[6]

She acted in stage plays at the Empress Theatre in Vancouver in the late 1920s, playing the lead role in Goldfish, Stella Dallas, and The Second Mrs. Tanqueray.[7] Future husband Lee Millar (1888–1941) directed the band for these plays.[citation needed]

Radio and television edit

Raleigh Cigarettes Program 1948 cast: Standing: Pat McGeehan, The Four Knights, David Rose (orchestra leader). Seated: Verna Felton ("Grandma" to Skelton's "Junior" character), Rod O'Connor (announcer), Lurene Tuttle ("Mother" to Skelton's "Junior" character). Front: Red Skelton.
Harry Morgan, Cara Williams and Felton in Pete and Gladys (1960)

Felton worked in the 1930s and 1950s in radio, including playing the children's mother on the serial The Cinnamon Bear, Junior the Mean Widdle Kid's grandmother on Red Skelton's radio series, Hattie Hirsch on Point Sublime, and Dennis Day's mother, Mrs. Day, who was always looking out for him while trying to boss around Jack Benny on The Jack Benny Program. She recurred on The Great Gildersleeve and was heard on The Abbott and Costello Show and other comedy shows, as well as dramatic roles on The Lux Radio Theatre. She played the fairy godmother in one-shot adaptations of the Cinderella story on the anthology series Screen Directors Playhouse and Hallmark Playhouse.

Felton's first television appearance was in a 1951 episode of The Amos 'n Andy Show as a nurse. She appeared in a recurring role as the mother of Ruth Farley, a young woman played by Gloria Winters in the 1953–55 ABC sitcom with a variety show theme, Where's Raymond?, renamed The Ray Bolger Show. Though some sitcom aficionados might assume that her guest appearances on I Love Lucy led to a regular supporting role as Hilda Crocker on the CBS sitcom December Bride, Felton had played that same character on the radio version two years prior to the television production. Felton continued her Hilda Crocker role on the December Bride spin-off, Pete and Gladys, with Harry Morgan and Cara Williams. For her performance on December Bride, Felton was nominated for the Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Comedy Series in 1958 and 1959.[8]

Felton was the original voice of Fred Flintstone's mother-in-law, Pearl Slaghoople, voicing the character as a semi-regular in seasons two and three of Hanna-Barbera's landmark TV series The Flintstones. Fred's mother-in-law was not named during Felton's run; the "Slaghoople" name was mentioned in season four when Janet Waldo debuted in the role. In 1963, in the series finale of CBS's Dennis the Menace sitcom, Felton played John Wilson's aunt in the episode entitled "Aunt Emma Visits the Wilsons". In the story line, Mr. Wilson (Gale Gordon) tries to convince Aunt Emma to leave her estate to him and his wife, Eloise (Sara Seegar). Wilson becomes suspicious when Emma begins spending time with Dennis Mitchell (Jay North). Felton's son Lee Millar Jr. played Tommy Anderson's father on the same sitcom.

Film and animation edit

Felton's on-screen appearance was in the 1917 silent film, The Chosen Prince, or The Friendship of David and Jonathan. During the 1940s and the early 1950s, she was in demand as a character actress in films, with roles in If I Had My Way (1940), Girls of the Big House (1945), The Fuller Brush Man (1948), Buccaneer's Girl (1950), Belles on Their Toes, Don't Bother to Knock (both 1952), and her memorable role as Mrs. Potts warmly acting as surrogate mother to William Holden in the 1955 film adaptation of William Inge's stage play Picnic.

Felton was a popular actress at the Walt Disney Studios, lending her voice to the animated features:

According to the Los Angeles Times, Felton served as Honorary Mayor of North Hollywood for several years.

Death edit

Felton died at her home of a stroke at the age of 76 on the evening of December 14, 1966, one day before Walt Disney's passing. She is interred at Grand View Memorial Park Cemetery in Glendale, California.[9]

Filmography edit

Radio edit

Original Air Date Program Role Notes
1937 The Cinnamon Bear Mother
1938–1939 Candid Lady Aunt Julia
1939 Fibber McGee and Molly Mrs. Homer Gildersleeve
1939–1942 The Great Gildersleeve Miss Fitch, Mrs. Goddwin
1939–1955 The Jack Benny Program Dennis's Mother Mrs. Day
Point Sublime Hattie Hirsch
1942 Lux Radio Theatre Madame Therese DeFarge "A Tale of Two Cities"
1942–1943 Tommy Riggs and Betty Lou Mrs. MacIntyre
1942–49 The Abbott and Costello Show Multiple characters
1943–1947 The Joan Davis Show Blossom Blimp Also known as The Sealtest Village Store
1944 Command Performance Saleswoman "Christmas"
1944–1952 The Judy Canova Show Aunt Agatha
1945 The Old Gold Comedy Theater Nick's Mother "My Favorite Wife"
Also known as The Harold Lloyd Theater
1946–1951 A Day in the Life of Dennis Day Dennis Day's Mother
1946–1953 The Red Skelton Show Junior's Grandmother
1948 Suspense Ada "The Man Who Thought He Was Edward G. Robinson"
1950 Young Love Janet's Mother Mrs. Shaw "Visit by Janet's Mom and Jimmy's Dad"
1950 Screen Directors Playhouse The Fairy Godmother "Cinderella"
1951 Hallmark Playhouse The Fairy Godmother '"The Story of Cinderella'"
1952–1953 December Bride Hilda Crocker Radio version
1952–1955 My Little Margie Mrs. Odetts Radio version

Film edit

Year Title Role Notes
1917 The Chosen Prince, or the Friendship of David and Jonathan Michal
1939 Joe and Ethel Turp Call on the President Neighbor Uncredited
1940 Northwest Passage Mrs. Jill Towne Uncredited
1940 If I Had My Way Mrs. Abigail DeLacey
1941 Dumbo Elephant Matriarch / Mrs. Jumbo Voice, Uncredited
1945 Girls of the Big House Agnes
1946 She Wrote the Book Mrs. Lauren Kilgour Uncredited
1948 The Fuller Brush Man Junior's Grandmother Uncredited
1950 Cinderella The Fairy Godmother Voice
1950 Buccaneer's Girl Dowager
1950 The Gunfighter Mrs. August Pennyfeather
1951 New Mexico Mrs. Fenway
1951 Alice in Wonderland Queen of Hearts Voice
1951 Little Egypt Mrs. Samantha Doane
1952 Belles on Their Toes Cousin Leora
1952 Don't Bother To Knock Mrs. Alex Ballew
1955 Lady and the Tramp Aunt Sarah Voice
1955 Picnic Mrs. Helen Potts
1957 The Oklahoman Mrs. Stephanie Waynebrook
1957 Taming Sutton's Gal Aunty Sutton
1959 Sleeping Beauty Flora Voice
1960 Goliath II Eloise Short, Voice
1960 Guns of the Timberland Aunt Sarah
1965 The Man from Button Willow Mrs. Tiffany Pomeroy, Mother, Lady on Trolley Voice
1967 The Jungle Book Mrs. Hathi Voice, Released Posthumously, (final film role)

Television edit

Year Program Role Notes
1951 The Amos 'n Andy Show Nurse "Kingfish Has a Baby"
1952 The Ezio Pinza Show Mrs. Day
1952–1953 The George Burns and Gracie Allen Show Emily Marsh, Mrs. Rodney, Maggie, Mrs. Evans 4 episodes
1952–1954 The Dennis Day Show Dennis' Mother Mrs. Day
1953 I Love Lucy Mrs. Simpson, Mrs. Porter "Sales Resistance"
"Lucy Hires a Maid"
1953–1955 Where's Raymond? Ruth Farley's Mother
1954 Walt Disney's Disneyland Queen of Hearts (voice, archived) "Alice in Wonderland"
1954–1959 December Bride Hilda Crocker 155 episodes
1955 Walt Disney's Disneyland Mrs. Jumbo / Elephant Matriarch (voice, archived) "Dumbo"
1955–1962 The Jack Benny Program Dennis' Mother Mrs. Day 5 episodes
1957 Climax! Nurse "The Disappearance of Amanda Hale"
1959 The Many Loves of Dobie Gillis Mrs. Lapping "Deck the Halls"
1960 The Real McCoys Naomi Vesper "Cousin Naomi"
1960–1961 Pete and Gladys Hilda Crocker 30 episodes
Spin-off of December Bride
1961 Miami Undercover Aramintha "Cukie Dog"
1962 Wagon Train Gran Jennings "The Lonnie Fallon Story"
1962 Henry Fonda and the Family TV miniseries
1962 My Three Sons Mub "Coincidences"
1962–1963 The Flintstones Pearl Slaghoople Voice role
4 episodes
1963 Dennis the Menace Aunt Emma "Aunt Emma Visits the Wilsons"
1977 The Wonderful World of Disney Flora (voice, archived) "Sleeping Beauty"
1983 Walt Disney Flora (voice, archived) "Sleeping Beauty"
1998 The Wonderful World of Disney Flora (voice, archived) "Sleeping Beauty"

Discography edit

  • Walt Disney's Cinderella: Little Miller Series (1949, RCA/Camden) - The Fairy Godmother
  • Walt Disney's Cinderella (1954, RCA/Camden) - The Fairy Godmother
  • Disney Songs and Story: Sleeping Beauty (2012, Walt Disney Records) - Flora

References edit

  1. ^ Felton, Verna (January 1948). Love That Red-Head. Radio Mirror. pp. 46, 81, 82. Retrieved May 18, 2014.
  2. ^ "Fischer's Concert House ad". San Francisco Call. California, San Francisco. August 19, 1900. p. 35. Retrieved February 9, 2019 – via
  3. ^ "The Allen Stock Company". Petaluma Daily Morning Courier. California, Petaluma. February 2, 1903. p. 3. Retrieved February 9, 2019 – via
  4. ^ "The People's Theatre". The Province. Canada, British Columbia, Vancouver. November 30, 1903. p. 8. Retrieved February 9, 2019 – via
  5. ^ "At the Stock Theatres". The Oregon Daily Journal. Oregon, Portland. May 7, 1907. p. 5. Retrieved February 9, 2019 – via
  6. ^ "The Defiance of Doris". The Leader-Post. Canada, Saskatchewan, Regina. December 19, 1910. p. 3. Retrieved February 9, 2019 – via
  7. ^ Playford-Beaudet, Laurance (March 25, 2018). "Verna Felton, a brief introduction". grunt gallery, Vancouver BC – via posters from theatre.
  8. ^ "Daytona Beach Morning Journal - Google News Archive Search".
  9. ^ Wilson, Scott (August 19, 2016). Resting Places: The Burial Sites of More Than 14,000 Famous Persons, 3d ed. McFarland. p. 238. ISBN 978-1-4766-2599-7. Retrieved November 21, 2021.

Other sources

  • Terrace, Vincent. Radio Programs, 1924–84. Jefferson, North Carolina: McFarland, 1999. ISBN 0-7864-0351-9
  • Tucker, Fredrick. Verna Felton. Albany, Georgia: BearManor Media, 2010. ISBN 978-1-59393-524-5

External links edit