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Mabel Albertson


annelovestcm

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The quintessential mother in law from hell. She played that part to perfection. I dont how many times she played and replayed that role on tv (and in movies too)........

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I remember Mabel best as Howard Sprague's meddling mother on

The Andy Griffith Show. She wasn't a mother-in-law from hell, as

Howie never got married (though he did come close once), but she

had her nose in anything that concerned him, and kept him closely

tied to her apron strings. Very closely. Any episode in which Mrs.

Sprague appeared was a funny one. Her brother Jack also appeared

on an episode of the show as Aunt Bee's charming con man and

would be ice cream mogul cousin, Bradford.

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She will be Phyllis Stephens (Darrin's Mother) forever in my heart.

 

I loved *Bewitched* as a kid, probably for the "magic" aspect. Rewatching these as an adult, I am enthralled by the incredible performances of the supporting cast; Agnes Moorhead, Dick York, David White and of course, Mabel Albertson.

 

All Mabel had to do was add a teeny bit of whine to her lines to give it that perfect judgmental snarkiness. She was only in 18 episodes, but boy did she leave an impression. And when you put the 2 mother-in-laws together....!

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Yes. Mothers and Mothers-in-Laws....I loved her as Howard's mom. I think my favorite was the one where she faked headaches so Howard would come home early from his date. They wound up taking her along and Andy got stuck as her date. (LOL)

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Then there's the great Isabel Randolph, who played many a dowager (including Mrs. Uppington on FIBBER McGEE AND MOLLY) and was Rob Petrie's mom on THE DICK VAN DYKE SHOW.

 

And Doris Packer, who was on LEAVE IT TO BEAVER (as Miss Rayburn, the principle), THE MOTHERS-IN-LAW, THE NEW DICK VAN DYKE SHOW and THE GOVERNOR AND JJ.

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I'd guess she was only in about half a dozen episodes, but each one was funny.

Yes, poor Andy got stuck on a date with Mrs. Sprague. Ouch. This was the one

where Helen wouldn't do anything with Andy until he agreed to play matchmaker.

Want to go for a walk? No. Want to go for coffee? No. After that he got the message.

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Yep. That Helen could be a real shrew! And getting Howard to go out on date was her idea in the first place. (was never a fan. LOL) I liked his earlier girlfriends better (Elinor Donahue, Tatum O'Neals mother (forget her name) There were others.......

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I read somewhere that Andy had a problem warming up to some of the

actresses who played his love interest. I think Joanna Moore was the one

who played the county nurse, and Julie Adams was also a county nurse

who was in a few episodes. For whatever reason, I guess he felt comfortable

with Aneta Corsaut. Helen definitely had a deep jealous streak which sometimes

made her act a bit nutty.

 

I think the last episode that Mabel Albertson was in was the one where she got

married and moved away, and Howard turned the house into a "swinging bachelor

pad." Then he held a swinging party which turned out to be a disaster, especially

for Helen's feet.

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Yeah, I remember that one. (Party) I'm unsure if they actually had an episode of her moving away or they just talked about it. Elinor Donahue was on the show for at least a season (maybe two) I wonder why she left? The others were on for much shorter periods. One thing I did like about Helen was her name (Crump! Loved it!) Otherwise I considered her a pain.......Funny how no matter what Opie's age she was ALWAYS his teacher. She must've taught every grade!

 

Edited by: Hibi on Jun 30, 2011 3:24 PM

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I, too, enjoyed Mabel Albertson's work. She even did an early episode of Superman as Perry White's sister, a "maiden lady" missionary.

 

Also, I think Doris Packer played Mrs. Osborn, mother to Chatsworth-aka Warren Beatty-on Dobie Gillis. My brother loved Dobie's description of her: "This is Mrs. Osborn, this is a Sherman tank. If' either's after you, run. If it's Mrs. Osborn, run faster".

 

Both proved a woman didn't have to dry up on screen after she reached middle age. In their cases, 40 wasn't fatal.

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Mabel was only in the first five or ten minutes of the episode.

Howard was at home watching TV when she and her beau walked

in and made the announcement that they were getting married.

I think that was about it. Howard, Goober, Andy, Helen, and late

comer Emmett. Maybe for Mayberry that was a big party.

 

For whatever reason, Andy didn't jell with Elinor Donahue and she

left after the first season. Then they put in a series of girlfriends

who would appear for a few episodes, until Aneta Corsaut stayed

around. Whoever came up with the name of Crump deserved a bonus.

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> TikiSoo wrote:

> She will be Phyllis Stephens (Darrin's Mother) forever in my heart.

>

> I loved Bewitched as a kid, probably for the "magic" aspect. Rewatching these as an adult, I am enthralled by the incredible performances of the supporting cast; Agnes Moorhead, Dick York, David White and of course, Mabel Albertson.

>

> All Mabel had to do was add a teeny bit of whine to her lines to give it that perfect judgmental snarkiness. She was only in 18 episodes, but boy did she leave an impression. And when you put the 2 mother-in-laws together....!

 

"Frank, I'm getting another one of my sick headaches!" The episode in which she thinks Endora is trying to steal Frank away from her was a great one. Endora goes to her to try to straighten things out, which was unusually gracious of the normally diabolical Endora, but it still all goes awry.

 

Endora was my favorite character from Bewitched. I love watching Agnes Moorehead in old movies on TCM; she always lights up the screen. And I definitely liked Dick York better than Dick Sargent as Darrin on Bewitched. He had a wild-eyed look that was always funny, yet he didn't come of as being overly cynical the way Dick Sargent did. Dick Sargent's Darrin seemed to be in a perpetual bad mood with everyone (not just with Samantha's relatives). Ironically, I read that Sargent was Montgomery's first choice to play Darrin but he was unavailable at the time. Regardless, I still like York's portrayal better.

 

I believe Mabel Albertson feigned a headache or illness on The Andy Griffith Show to try to keep Howard from going out on a date.

 

She also was in a few B&W episodes of Gunsmoke. And Jack Albertson was in at least one of the color episodes, one with "Dirty Sally" (played by another veteran, Jeanette Nolan), and I think one other color episode in which he had been thrown out of another town.

 

She played Perry White's sister in The Adventures of Superman episode in which they go to Haiti. My favorite line of the entire series is from that episode, in which a guide is reluctant to take Clark Kent and company into the jungle to search for her:

 

Kent: Surely you don't believe in voodoo?

Guide: I believe in sharp knives and poison!

 

One of the few times that the very smart Clark Kent (played smart by George Reeves) got one-upped in dialogue on the show.

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>C. Bogle wrote:

>Mabel was only in the first five or ten minutes of the episode.

>Howard was at home watching TV when she and her beau walked

>in and made the announcement that they were getting married.

>I think that was about it. Howard, Goober, Andy, Helen, and late

>comer Emmett. Maybe for Mayberry that was a big party.

>

>For whatever reason, Andy didn't jell with Elinor Donahue and she

>left after the first season. Then they put in a series of girlfriends

>who would appear for a few episodes, until Aneta Corsaut stayed

>around. Whoever came up with the name of Crump deserved a bonus.

 

That episode had a nice message. Howard refused to allow Emmett and his wife to come because it was going to be a "swinging singles" only party. The party was bombing and Emmett shows up at the end and livens things up with some great dances moves, proving that age, and/or being married, does not mean you are going to drag down a party. After watching some of his dance moves, I have enjoyed seeing Paul Hartman (Emmett) in some old movies, some on TCM.

 

Interestingly, in an earlier episode--definitely before the one in which she married and moved to Raleigh--Mrs. Sprague is absent when Howard is going to marry Millie in West Virginia. Howard, Millie, Andy, and Helen travel to West Virginia for the wedding, which ended up getting canceled...but where was Mrs. Sprague, who had previously been holding tight apron strings on Howard, with, as Andy once put it, "very little slack"?

 

I never cared much for Helen Crump; I don't know why. She was always using unfair tactics to try to compel Andy to do things he didn't feel were right--such as refusing to do anything with him unless he participated in playing matchmaker with Howard and the new county nurse.

 

I read that Joanna Moore (mother of Tatum O'Neal) was considered "too glamorous" for Mayberry, which is part of why they wrote her out. I really liked her as County Nurse Peggy. I also liked Elinor Donahue as Ellie Walker. They were my two favorites.

 

There was also County Nurse Mary. Mayberry sure went through a lot of nurses and doctors and pharmacists. The actor who played Asa the bank guard later played one of the town doctors when Goober thinks he has been injured! The doctor that arrived when Ellie was in Mayberry disappeared, as did Ellie and her pharmacist uncle. William Christopher (Father Mulcahy on MASH, also one of Gomer's pals on Gomer Pyle, USMC ) arrived in Mayberry in one of the later seasons as the new doctor, then he disappeared too. Robert F. Simon (one of the two actors who played Frank Stevens on Bewitched ) was the pharmacist in the episode in which Opie had the job at the drugstore.

 

I read that Andy Griffith didn't feel comfortable with any of the actresses playing his girlfriends until Aneta Corsaut came along.

 

Both Corsaut and Betty Lynn (Thelma Lou) appeared with Griffith on Matlock. I believe Lynn played his secretary in the early episodes.

 

Robbie

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>RayFaiola wrote:

>And Doris Packer, who was on LEAVE IT TO BEAVER (as Miss Rayburn, the principle), THE MOTHERS-IN-LAW, THE NEW DICK VAN DYKE SHOW and THE GOVERNOR AND JJ.

 

Doris Packer was great. She played the principal on Leave It to Beaver, but she also took over as teacher (still as Principal Rayburn) toward the end when the previous teachers (Canfield and Landers) disappeared. She played the part with some gentle sarcasm which I really liked.

 

Robbie

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I haven't seen Bewitched in years, so I don't remember Mabel all that well on

that program, but I do remember her as Mrs. Sprague. Maybe Howard slipped

her a knockout drug in something from Millie's bakery so he and she could high-

tail it to West Virginia for the planned marriage. That was a funny episode, despite

the fact that the marriage had to be cancelled, which, in hindsight, was probably

best for both parties. Howie even opened up the wallet on that one-Don't worry folks,

the water and toothpicks are on me.

 

They did have a probelm keeping county nurses on the show. Quite a turnover rate.

Of course back in those days, that was one of the few jobs a woman was likely to

have. Peggy was very pretty, and her daddy had lots of money too. I remember Andy

had an escargot problem, which I think was repeated in one of the later shows. Maybe

she was a bit glamorous for Mayberry. Helen could be manipulative and had a very

obvious jealousy problem, but she did seem to fit in well as time went along.

 

One of the lines I remember best was in that same episode when Helen tried to fix

up Howard with Miss Fairchild, another county nurse. Howard was out of the office

for some reason and Mrs. Sprague was alone with Andy and she said something

to the effect, 'Well Andrew, Howard's work is different from yours, he has to use his

mind.' Ouch. She really knew how to turn the knife when she wanted.

 

Not that's it's earth shaking news...but Doris Packer played Mrs. Cornelia Rayburn.

Not too many Cornelias out there anymore. She was good as the prinicpal. Firm and

fair, but kind hearted and she knew to give a kid a break when necessary.

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>C. Bogle wrote:

>I haven't seen Bewitched in years, so I don't remember Mabel all that well on that program, but I do remember her as Mrs. Sprague. Maybe Howard slipped her a knockout drug in something from Millie's bakery so he and she could high-tail it to West Virginia for the planned marriage. That was a funny episode, despite the fact that the marriage had to be cancelled, which, in hindsight, was probably best for both parties. Howie even opened up the wallet on that one-Don't worry folks, the water and toothpicks are on me.

 

That episode did have some funny lines, like when Andy, realizing Howard doesn't want to spend a lot of money on dinner and suggests the fish cakes special. Howard says something about fish combining nutritional value with flavor at a modest price. Then they talk about loving rolls. Howard says, "I'm a roll man myself!" Nothing like those free rolls!

 

Having the marriage canceled did work out for the best as it opened the door for Sam and Millie to begin dating on Mayberry, R.F.D.

 

>They did have a probelm keeping county nurses on the show. Quite a turnover rate. Of course back in those days, that was one of the few jobs a woman was likely to have. Peggy was very pretty, and her daddy had lots of money too. I remember Andy had an escargot problem, which I think was repeated in one of the later shows. Maybe she was a bit glamorous for Mayberry. Helen could be manipulative and had a very obvious jealousy problem, but she did seem to fit in well as time went along.

 

When they were in Hollywood Andy tells actress Darlene Mason he's never had escargot but that he'll try anything once. This is a big change from his attitude in the fancy restaurant in Raleigh that Peggy took him to. I remember Peggy ordering a sazerac, "a sort of New Orleans drink." She was just so charming on the show, much as Tatum O'Neal was in some of her movie roles. She has that same sparkle in her eyes that her mother had. Joanna Moore had a lot of personal problems with drugs and alcohol, and that may have led to her departure from the show, rather than it being due to her being "too glamorous" for Mayberry. I have seen it reported both ways. I saw Moore in a movie role in the '70s and it looked like she had aged 20 years since doing The Andy Griffith Show, so I'm sure her personal problems were taking a toll. BTW, TCM just showed The Blob with Aneta Corsaut; Joanna Moore was in a lower-grade 50's horror film, Monster on the Campus.+

 

Regardless, I liked Peggy and Ellie much better than Helen.

 

> One of the lines I remember best was in that same episode when Helen tried to fix up Howard with Miss Fairchild, another county nurse. Howard was out of the office for some reason and Mrs. Sprague was alone with Andy and she said something to the effect, 'Well Andrew, Howard's work is different from yours, he has to use his mind.' Ouch. She really knew how to turn the knife when she wanted.

 

That was a great line; I remember it well. She used to deliver equally stinging barbs on Bewitched. Some were very subtle like that line, some were not subtle, like when she suggested to Serena that Endora used too much makeup and Arthur "drinks it up" a bit too much.

 

>Not that's it's earth shaking news...but Doris Packer played Mrs. Cornelia Rayburn. Not too many Cornelias out there anymore. She was good as the prinicpal. Firm and fair, but kind hearted and she knew to give a kid a break when necessary.

 

Yeah, I thought it was "Mrs. Rayburn". I only referred to her as "Principal Rayburn." She was firm, fair, and kind-hearted as you said, but she could also deliver a little bit of sarcasm every once in a while that I really liked, like when one of the teachers (Miss Canfield?) told her surely Beaver would have given his parents the note she sent home, and Mrs. Rayburn said, "You haven't been teaching long, have you?"

 

BTW, Doris Packer also played two characters on Dobie Gillis. In addition to playing Mrs. Osborne, she also played Mrs. Armitage. I just saw her on Dobie Gillis last night on MeTV.

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As you noted about Andy's remark about Howard and his mother's

apron strings-very little slack, the same could be said about Howard

and his wallet. Very little space for an opening. Let's splurge-have two

pats of butter. And after Andy and Helen had gone along, Millie went

ahead and ordered the works, probably costing more than the other three

combined. Not a good sign. I also got a kick out of Howard's feathered

hat-just what the premature nerd around town needs.

 

From the episode about Helen trying to fix up Howard with Miss Fairchild

came the minor revelation that Howard left his undershirt in his old office

and forgot about it. Most un-Sprague like. Thank goodness Mama wasn't

there to see that. That might have given her a real headache.

 

I didn't remember that Andy had that second escargot incident with Darlene

Mason. I thought it might have been with the pretty lady lawyer from Raleigh,

who sent Helen into a ballistic jealousy fit, perhaps somewhat understandably

in this case.

 

 

I've read a bit about Joanna Moore's problems with alcohol and drugs, but don't

remember the details. Just like the movies, there are usually at least two or more

versions of everything in TV too. I thought she was the prettiest of Andy's girlfriends,

and had a very charming personality, though those white gloves have gone the way

of names like Cornelia. For whatever reason, Ellie never appealed to me much,

so I didn't miss her after her early exit.

 

 

Mrs. Rayburn had been around long enough to know all the tricks. I think Diane

Brewster only played Miss Canfield for the first season, before she was replaced

by Sue Randall as Miss Landers. Yes, Miss Landers. Every once in a while I'll

spot Sue Randall as a guest star on a TV show from the period.

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She did a lot of TV guest star appearances at that time. I vaguely recall

her in an episode of Alfred Hitchcock Presents where she spent some

time in a bathtub and maybe an appliance was later dropped into it, but

I'm not sure. She certainly was a very attractive woman. Too bad her life

turned out so badly.

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I liked both Joanna Moore and Elinor Donahue on the show. Not a big fan of Aneta. Part of it was the writing. She was a first class b-. Then they glammed her up and I liked her even less.....The pay was probably too low and the doctors/pharmacists left for greener pastures (LOL) They did go through a lot of them........Speaking of Aneta, her big screen claim to fame, THE BLOB was on Thurs night! :D

 

Edited by: Hibi on Jul 5, 2011 12:01 PM

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