62 (passed away Oct. 13th, 1968)
Apr. 4th, 1906
New York City, New York, USA
Bea Benaderet's Main TV Roles
Main Movie Roles1951 - A Bear for Punishment
1949 - On the Town
1946 - Baseball Bugs
1946 - Notorious
1943 - A Corny Concerto
Guest TV Roles
Telephone Operator (Voiced)
Bea Benaderet had a remarkable career in radio and television. In the days before television, she provided the voices for hundreds of characters on the radio, on shows like "Fibber McGee and Molly," "My Favorite Husband" (with Lucille Ball), and the "Jack Benny Show." Benederet was born in New York City but raised in San Francisco and made her radio debut when she was 12 years old. After doing voice-overs and various roles, Orson Welles gave her a regular role on "Campbell Playhouse." Benederet made a smooth move from radio to television as she was cast in the role as Blanche Morton in "The George Burns and Gracie Allen Show" (1950). It was because of her role as Blanche that she could not accept the part of Ethel Mertz in "I Love Lucy" (1951), which was offered to her by Lucille Ball and Desi Arnaz. She also provided the voice for several Warner Brothers cartoons, usually for females (the ones Mel Blanc could not do). Later, she worked with Blanc again on one of the most famous cartoons!
- Born in New York City and raised in San Francisco, Bea was discovered by the manager of radio station KGO, who spotted her singing in a children's production of The Beggar's Opera, and put her on the radio as a singer.
- She was one of producer/creator 'Paul Henning (I)' (qv)'s favorite character actresses. When developing _"The Beverly Hillbillies" (1962)_ (qv), he kept Bea in mind, and, although she was interested in the role of Granny, Henning felt she was too "busty" for the role. During auditions for the role of Granny, it was Benaderet who pointed to 'Irene Ryan' (qv) and told Henning, "There's your 'Granny'!".
- She died during the run of her TV series _"Petticoat Junction" (1963)_ (qv), and a stand-in, seen only from the back, and with no dialogue to speak, was used for the last episode in which she supposedly appeared.
- After dying of emphysema at age 62, Bea was buried at Pierce Brothers Valhalla Memorial Park in North Hollywood, California. Her second husband, Gene, died four days later (October 17, 1968) of a heart attack and was buried next to her.
- Her father, Samuel Benaderet, was a Turkish immigrant; her mother's name was Margaret O'Keefe Benaderet. Bea went on to have two children, Jack and Maggie, from her first marriage to actor 'Jim Bannon (I)' (qv).
- In 1936, she joined 'Orson Welles' (qv) on radio's "The Campbell Playhouse" and received her first big break when she became a regular on 'Jack Benny' (qv)'s big radio show, where she created memorable characters such as Gertrude Gearshift. A major radio staple at the time, her numerous appearances included the comedies "The Adventures of Ozzie and Harriet," "The Great Gildersleeve" and "Fibber McGee and Molly." She also played 'Lucille Ball' (qv)'s best friend on radio's "My Favorite Husband," which was the precursor to TV's _"I Love Lucy" (1951)_ (qv).
- Bea Benaderet was 'Lucille Ball' (qv)'s original choice for the role of Ethel Mertz on the _"I Love Lucy" (1951)_ (qv) show.
- While attending the Reginald Travis School of Acting in San Francisco, she appeared with stock companies and little theaters, finding occasional employment as an actress, singer, writer, producer and announcer on radio.
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