Eve Arden

Eve Arden (born Eunice Mary Quedens, April 30, 1908 – November 12, 1990) was an American film, radio, stage, and television actress, and comedienne. She performed in leading and supporting roles for nearly six decades.

Eve Arden
Eunice Mary Quedens

(1908-04-30)April 30, 1908
DiedNovember 12, 1990(1990-11-12) (aged 82)
Los Angeles, California, U.S.
Resting placeWestwood Village Memorial Park Cemetery
Years active19291987
Ned Bergen
(m. 1939; div. 1947)

Brooks West
(m. 1952; died 1984)

Beginning her film career in 1929 and on Broadway in the early 1930s, Arden's first major role was in the RKO Radio Pictures drama Stage Door (1937) opposite Katharine Hepburn, followed by roles in the comedies Having Wonderful Time (1938) and the Marx Brothers' At the Circus (1939). Arden would go on to earn an Academy Award nomination for Best Supporting Actress for her role in Mildred Pierce (1945).

In the latter part of her career, she played the sardonic but engaging title character of a high school teacher in Our Miss Brooks, winning the first Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Lead Actress in a Drama Series, and as the school principal in the musicals Grease (1978) and Grease 2 (1982).

Early life

Eunice Mary Quedens was born in Mill Valley, California, on April 30, 1908[1][2][3] to Charles Peter Quedens, son of Charles Henry Augustus and Meta (née Dierks) Quedens, and Lucille (née Frank) Quedens, daughter of Bernard and Louisa (née Mertens) Frank, both of German descent. Lucille, a milliner, divorced Charles over his gambling, and went into business for herself.

Although not Roman Catholic, young Eunice was sent to a Dominican convent school in San Rafael, California, and later attended Tamalpais High School, a public high school in Mill Valley until age 16. After leaving school, she joined the stock theater company of Henry "Terry" Duffy.[4]



She made her film debut under her real name in the backstage musical Song of Love (1929), as a wisecracking, homewrecking showgirl who becomes a rival to the film's star, singer Belle Baker.[5] The film was one of Columbia Pictures' earliest successes. In 1933, she relocated to New York City, where she appeared in multiple Broadway stage productions in supporting parts.[5] In 1934, she was cast in that year's Ziegfeld Follies revue. This was the first role in which she was credited as Eve Arden. Told to change her name for the show, she looked at her cosmetics and "stole my first name from Evening in Paris and the second from Elizabeth Arden".[6] Between 1934 and 1941, she would appear in Broadway productions of Parade, Very Warm for May, Two for the Show, and Let's Face It!.[7]

Her film career began in earnest in 1937 when she signed a contract with RKO Radio Pictures,[8] and appeared in the films Oh Doctor and Stage Door. Her Stage Door portrayal of a fast-talking, witty supporting character gained Arden considerable notice and was to be a template for many of Arden's future roles.[6][9] In 1938, she appeared in a supporting part in the comedy Having Wonderful Time, starring Ginger Rogers and Lucille Ball.[10] This was followed by roles in the crime film The Forgotten Woman (1939),[11] and the comedy At the Circus (1939), opposite Groucho Marx, a role that would require her to perform acrobatics.[12]

In 1940, she appeared opposite Clark Gable in Comrade X, followed by the drama Manpower (1941), opposite Marlene Dietrich.[5] She also appeared in a supporting part in the Red Skelton comedy Whistling in the Dark (1941),[13] and the romantic comedy Obliging Young Lady (1942).[14]

Her many memorable screen roles include a supporting role as Joan Crawford's wise-cracking friend in Mildred Pierce (1945) for which she received an Academy Award nomination as Best Supporting Actress, and James Stewart's wistful secretary in Otto Preminger's murder mystery, Anatomy of a Murder (1959). (One of her co-stars in that film was husband Brooks West.) In 1946, exhibitors voted her the sixth-most promising "star of tomorrow".[15]

She became familiar to a new generation of film-goers when she played Principal McGee in both 1978's Grease and 1982's Grease 2. She was known for her deadpan delivery of jokes in films.[16]

Radio and television

Arden's ability with witty scripts made her a natural talent for radio; she became a regular on Danny Kaye's short-lived but memorably zany comedy-variety show in 1946, which also featured swing bandleader Harry James and gravel-voiced character actor-comedian Lionel Stander.[17]

Kaye's show lasted one season, but Arden's display of comic talent and timing set the stage for her to be cast in her best-known role, Madison High School English teacher Connie Brooks in Our Miss Brooks. Arden portrayed the character on radio from 1948 to 1957, in a television version of the program from 1952 to 1956, and in a 1956 feature film. Arden's character clashed with the school's principal, Osgood Conklin (played by Gale Gordon), and nursed an unrequited crush on fellow teacher Philip Boynton (played originally by future film star Jeff Chandler, and later on radio, then on television, by Robert Rockwell). Except for Chandler, the entire radio cast of Arden, Gordon, Richard Crenna (Walter Denton), Robert Rockwell (Mr. Philip Boynton), Gloria McMillan (Harriet Conklin), and Jane Morgan (landlady Margaret Davis) played the same roles on television.[18]

Arden's portrayal of the character was so popular that she was made an honorary member of the National Education Association, received a 1952 award from the Teachers College of Connecticut's Alumni Association "for humanizing the American teacher", and even received teaching job offers.[16] Her wisecracking, deadpan attitude as the character ultimately became her public persona as a comedienne as well.[16]

She won a listeners' poll by Radio Mirror magazine as the top-ranking comedienne of 1948–1949, receiving her award at the end of an Our Miss Brooks broadcast that March. "I'm certainly going to try in the coming months to merit the honor you've bestowed upon me, because I understand that if I win this (award) two years in a row, I get to keep Mr. Boynton," she joked. But she was also a hit with the critics; a winter 1949 poll of newspaper and magazine radio editors taken by Motion Picture Daily named her the year's best radio comedienne.[19]

Arden had a very brief guest appearance in a 1955 I Love Lucy episode titled "L.A. at Last" in which she played herself. While awaiting their food at the Brown Derby, Lucy Ricardo (Lucille Ball) and Ethel Mertz (Vivian Vance) argue over whether a certain portrait on a nearby wall is Shelley Winters or Judy Holliday. Lucy urges Ethel to ask a lady occupying the next booth, who turns and replies, "Neither. That's Eve Arden." Ethel suddenly realizes she was just talking to Arden in person, who soon passes Lucy and Ethel's table to leave the restaurant while the pair gawk.[18]

Desilu Productions, jointly owned by Desi Arnaz and Ball during their marriage, was the production company for the Our Miss Brooks television show, which filmed during the same years as I Love Lucy. Ball and Arden became acquainted when they co-starred together in the film Stage Door in 1937. Ball, according to numerous radio historians, suggested Arden for Our Miss Brooks after Shirley Booth auditioned for but failed to land the role and Ball — committed at the time to My Favorite Husband — could not.[20]

Arden tried another series in the fall of 1957, The Eve Arden Show, but it was canceled in spring of 1958 after 26 episodes. In 1966, Arden played Nurse Kelton in an episode of Bewitched. She later co-starred with Kaye Ballard as her neighbor and in-law, Eve Hubbard, in the 1967–1969 situation comedy The Mothers-in-Law, which was produced by Arnaz after the dissolution of Desilu Productions.[21] In her later career, Arden made appearances on such television shows as Bewitched, Alice, Maude, Hart to Hart, and Falcon Crest. In 1985, she appeared as the wicked stepmother in the Faerie Tale Theatre production of Cinderella.[18]


Arden was one of many actresses to take on the title roles in Hello, Dolly! and Auntie Mame in the 1960s; in 1967, she won the Sarah Siddons Award for her work in Chicago theatre.[22] Arden was cast in 1983 as the leading lady in what was to be her Broadway comeback in Moose Murders, but she wisely withdrew and was replaced with the much younger Holland Taylor after one preview performance, citing "artistic differences". The show went on to open and close on the same night, becoming known as one of the most legendary flops in Broadway history.[23]

Arden published an autobiography, The Three Phases of Eve, in 1985. In addition to her Academy Award nomination, Arden has two stars on the Hollywood Walk of Fame: Radio and Television (see List of stars on the Hollywood Walk of Fame for addresses). She was inducted into the National Radio Hall of Fame in 1995.[24]

Personal life

Arden was married to Ned Bergen from 1939 to 1947, and to actor Brooks West (1916-1984), from 1952 until his death in 1984 from a heart ailment, aged 67. West and she had four children; all but the youngest were adopted. All four survived their parents.[6]


On November 12, 1990, Arden died from cardiac arrest and arteriosclerotic heart disease, aged 82, at her home, according to her death certificate.[25] She is interred in the Westwood Village Memorial Park Cemetery, Westwood, Los Angeles, California.



Year Title Role Notes
1929 Song of Love Maisie LeRoy
1933 Dancing Lady Marcia Uncredited
1937 Oh, Doctor Shirley Truman
1937 Stage Door Eve
1938 Cocoanut Grove Sophie De Lemma
1938 Having Wonderful Time Henrietta
1938 Letter of Introduction Cora Phelps
1939 Women in the Wind Kit Campbell
1939 Big Town Czar Susan Warren
1939 The Forgotten Woman Carrie Ashburn
1939 Eternally Yours Gloria
1939 At the Circus Peerless Pauline
1939 A Child Is Born Miss Pinty
1939 Slightly Honorable Miss Ater
1940 She Couldn't Say No Alice Hinsdale
1940 Comrade X Jane Wilson
1940 No, No, Nanette Kitty
1941 That Uncertain Feeling Sally Aikens
1941 Ziegfeld Girl Patsy Dixon
1941 She Knew All the Answers Sally Long
1941 San Antonio Rose Gabby Trent
1941 Whistling in the Dark 'Buzz' Baker
1941 Manpower Dolly
1941 Last of the Duanes Kate
1941 Sing for Your Supper Barbara Stevens
1941 Bedtime Story Virginia Cole
1942 Obliging Young Lady 'Space' O'Shea - AKA Suwanee Rivers
1943 Hit Parade of 1943 Belinda Wright Alternative title: Change of Heart
1943 Let's Face It Maggie Watson
1944 Cover Girl Cornelia Jackson
1944 The Doughgirls Sgt. Natalia Moskoroff
1945 Pan-Americana Helen 'Hoppy' Hopkins
1945 Earl Carroll Vanities 'Tex' Donnelly
1945 Patrick the Great Jean Matthews
1945 Mildred Pierce Ida Corwin
1946 My Reputation Ginna Abbott
1946 The Kid from Brooklyn Ann Westley
1946 Night and Day Gabrielle
1947 The Unfaithful Paula
1947 The Arnelo Affair Vivian Delwyn
1947 Song of Scheherazade Madame de Talavera
1947 The Voice of the Turtle Olive Lashbrooke
1948 One Touch of Venus Molly Stewart
1948 Whiplash Chris Sherwood
1949 My Dream Is Yours Vivian Martin
1949 The Lady Takes a Sailor Susan Wayne
1950 Paid in Full Tommy Thompson
1950 Curtain Call at Cactus Creek Lily Martin
1950 Tea for Two Pauline Hastings
1950 Three Husbands Lucille McCabe
1951 Goodbye, My Fancy Miss 'Woody' Woods
1951 Two Tickets to Broadway Showgirl
1952 We're Not Married! Katie Woodruff
1953 The Lady Wants Mink Gladys Jones
1956 Our Miss Brooks Connie Brooks
1959 Anatomy of a Murder Maida Rutledge
1960 The Dark at the Top of the Stairs Lottie Lacey
1965 Sergeant Deadhead Lt. Charlotte Kinsey
1975 The Strongest Man in the World Harriet Crumply
1978 Grease Principal McGee
1981 Under the Rainbow The Duchess
1982 Pandemonium Warden June
1982 Grease 2 Principal McGee


Year Title Role Notes
1951 Starlight Theatre Julie Todd "Julie"
1952–1956 Our Miss Brooks Connie Brooks Main role (130 episodes)
1955 I Love Lucy Herself (cameo) "Hollywood at Last"
1957–1958 The Eve Arden Show Liza Hammond Main role (26 episodes)
1959–1967 The Red Skelton Show Clara Appleby Recurring role (6 episodes)
1961 Checkmate Georgia Golden "Death by Design"
1962 My Three Sons Marisa Montaine "A Holiday for Tramp"
1964 Vacation Playhouse Claudia Cooper "He's All Yours"
1965 Laredo Emma Bristow "Which Way Did They Go?"
1966 Bewitched Nurse Kelton "And Then There Were Three"
1966 Run for Your Life Mame Huston "Who's Watching the Fleshpot?"
1966 The Man from U.N.C.L.E. Prof. Lillian Stemmler "The Minus-X Affair"
1967 The Danny Thomas Hour Thelda Cunningham "The Royal Follies of 1933"
1967–1969 The Mothers-in-Law Eve Hubbard Main role (56 episodes)
1969 In Name Only Aunt Theda Reeson TV film
1972 A Very Missing Person Hildegarde Withers TV film
1972 All My Darling Daughters Miss Freeling TV film
1974 The ABC Afternoon Playbreak Mrs. Owens "Mother of the Bride"
1974 The Girl with Something Extra Aunt Fran "The Greening of Aunt Fran"
1974 Owen Marshall, Counselor at Law Dr. Lucille Barras "Subject: The Sterilization of Judy Simpson"
1975 Harry and Maggie Maggie Sturdivant TV pilot
1975 Ellery Queen Vera Bethune / Miss Aggie "The Adventure of Miss Aggie's Farewell Performance"
1977 Maude Lola Ashburn "Maude's Aunt"
1978 A Guide for the Married Woman Employment lady TV film
1978 Flying High Clarissa 'Wedgie' Wedge "It Was Just One of Those Days"
1979 Vega$ Sarah Bancroft "Design for Death"
1980 The Dream Merchants Coralee TV miniseries
1980 Alice Martha MacIntire "Alice in TV Land"
1980 The Love Boat Ms. Brenda Watts "The Affair: Parts 1 & 2"
1980 B. J. and the Bear Mrs. Jarvis "The Girls of Hollywood High"
1980 Hart to Hart Sophie Green "Does She or Doesn't She?"
1981 Nuts and Bolts Martha Fenton TV film
1983 Great Performances Queen of Hearts "Alice in Wonderland"
1983 Masquerade Mrs. Woodman "Diamonds"
1985 Faerie Tale Theatre The Stepmother "Cinderella"
1986 Amazing Stories Jane's Mother "Secret Cinema"
1987 Falcon Crest Lillian Nash "Manhunt" (final appearance)

Select stage credits

See also



  1. Census records from 1910 and 1920 (the earliest records found on Arden) as well as the Social Security Death Index (568-03-2856 Archived 2016-06-02 at the Wayback Machine) support 1909 as her year of birth, as does a travel manifest from 1953, giving her age as 44. However, her death certificate (#39019050699, County of Los Angeles Registrar-Recorder/County Clerk in the name of Eve Arden West), the California Death Registry (subscription required) and her family crypt at Westwood Village Memorial Park Cemetery cite 1908
  2. Obituary (with 1908 year of birth confirmed by Arden's daughter, Liza), upi.com, November 13, 1990; accessed January 1, 2017.
  3. After her death, some sources initially cited 1907, giving her age as 83, but this is groundless. Arden gave her own year of birth as 1912 for many years.
  4. Three Phases of Eve (1985). St Martin's Press
  5. Ware & Braukman 2005, p. 27.
  6. Krebs, Albin (November 13, 1990). "Eve Arden, Actress, Is Dead... TV's 'Our Miss Brooks'". The New York Times. Retrieved June 13, 2011.
  7. "Eve Arden". Playbill. Playbill, Inc. Retrieved December 29, 2016.
  8. Tucker 2011, p. 77.
  9. "Eve Arden". tcm.com. Retrieved June 13, 2011.
  10. Tucker 2011, p. 47.
  11. Tucker 2011, p. 53.
  12. Tucker 2011, p. 55.
  13. Tucker 2011, p. 71.
  14. Tucker 2011, p. 69.
  15. "The Stars of To-morrow". Sydney Morning Morning Herald (NSW: 1842-1954). NSW: National Library of Australia. September 10, 1946. p. 11 Supplement: The Sydney Morning Herald Magazine. Retrieved April 24, 2012.
  16. Burt A. Folkart (November 13, 1990). "Eve Arden, 82; Portrayed TV's Beloved 'Our Miss Brooks'". Los Angeles Times. LAtimes.com. Retrieved December 5, 2011.
  17. "The Danny Kaye Show". The Digital Deli Too. Retrieved December 5, 2011.
  18. Eve Arden on IMDb
  19. "Eve Arden, 82, dies; best known as 'Our Miss Brooks'". The Oregonian. Worthpoint. November 13, 1990. Retrieved December 5, 2011.
  20. "Eve Arden as Connie Brooks". Ourmissbrooks.com. Retrieved December 5, 2011.
  21. "Eve Arden profile (1908-1990)". Brian's Drive-in Theatre. February 15, 2011. Retrieved June 13, 2011.
  22. "The Sarah Siddons Society Awardees". Sarah Siddons Society. 2010. Retrieved June 13, 2011.
  23. Campbell Robertson (April 21, 2008). "A Broadway Flop Again Raises Its Antlers". New York Times. NYTimes.com. Retrieved June 13, 2011.
  24. "Comedy: Eve Arden". Radio Hall of Fame. Archived from the original on May 26, 2011. Retrieved June 13, 2011.
  25. Copy of death certificate; accessed October 21, 2016.


Further reading

  • Tucker, David C. (2007). The Women Who Made Television Funny: Ten Stars of 1950s Sitcoms. Jefferson, NC: McFarland & Co. ISBN 0-7864-2900-3.
  • Karol, Michael (2005). Sitcom Queens: Divas of the Small Screen. iUniverse. ISBN 0-595-40251-8.
  • Herbert, Ian, ed. (1981). "ARDEN, Eve". Who's Who in the Theatre. 1. Gale Research Company. p. 21. ISSN 0083-9833.
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