Elvia Allman

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
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
Spouse(s)
Wesley Benton Tourtellotte
(m. 1930; div. 1933)

C. C. Pyle
(m. 1937; died 1939)

Jerome Laveck Bayler
(m. 1945; died 1978)

Early years

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

Career

Radio career

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 career

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.

Death

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.

Filmography

Year Title Role Notes
1940Road to SingaporeHomely GirlUncredited
1940A Night at Earl Carroll'sCobina Gusher
1940Melody for ThreeRadio Station ReceptionistUncredited
1941Sis HopkinsRipple
1941Time Out for RhythmCobrina
1941Swing It SoldierCobina
1942Sweetheart of the FleetCobina (as Brenda & Cobina)
1943Three Hearts for JuliaEvaUncredited
1944In SocietyHysterical WidowUncredited
1944A Wave, a WAC and a MarineElvira Allman - Woman in Cab
1944Carolina BluesLoud Kyser FanUncredited
1948The Noose Hangs HighWomanUncredited
1951Week-End with FatherMrs. G.
1956The Kettles in the OzarksMeek Man's WifeUncredited
1956You Can't Run Away from ItMa, Vernon's Wife
1961The Pleasure of His CompanyMrs. Mooney
1961Breakfast at Tiffany'sLibrarian
1963The Nutty ProfessorEdwina Kelp
1963Johnny CoolBeauty Salon ReceptionistUncredited
1964Honeymoon HotelMrs. Sampson
1967Eight on the LamNeighborUncredited

References

  1. 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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