Lillian Bronson

Lillian Bronson (born Lillian Rumsey Bronson, October 21, 1902 - August 2, 1995[1][2]) was an American character actress.

Lillian Bronson
Lillian Rumsey Bronson

(1902-10-21)October 21, 1902
DiedAugust 2, 1995(1995-08-02) (aged 92)
Alma materUniversity of Michigan
Years active1930-1975
Spouse(s)Henry Daniels Mygatt (m. 1936–1943)

She performed in over 80 films, 60 of the films from 1939 to 1964, and appeared in over one hundred television productions from 1949 to 1975.[1][2]


Bronson was born in Lockport, New York, the daughter of a carriage builder, and attended the University of Michigan. She began her artistic career by performing plays at Broadway. During the Great Depression, Bronson and her late sister, Dorothy, opened the Bronson Studio in New York, designing and making toy animals and pillows.[3]

In 1943, Bronson appeared in the movie Happy Land as Mattie Dyer [3] and on television in the episode "The Druid Circle" of The Philco Television Playhouse, that aired on March 6, 1949, in the role of Miss Dagnall.

She appeared in four episodes of Perry Mason. She appeared as Clara Mayfield in the 1957 Perry Mason episode "The Case of the Sulky Girl" and as the Judge in 1958 episode "The Case of the Corresponding Corpse", the 1959 episode "The Case of the Shattered Dream", and the 1960 episode "The Case of the Clumsy Clown".

She then appeared in a long series of minor characters for many television series episodes from the early days of television until the mid-1970s, including many western genres. She became widely known for her role as the grandmother in the Kings Row television series.

Bronson's final appearance on the small screen was as "Grandma Nussbaum", Fonzie's grandmother, in the episode "Fonzie Moves In" of the ABC-TV sitcom series Happy Days, which aired on September 9, 1975.

Her final big screen appearance was in the film Kisses for My President (1964), in which she plays the part of Miss Currier.

Family/Personal life

Bronson was married to the late Henry Daniels Mygatt on New Year's Day 1936; they divorced on May 7, 1943; they did not have children.[3]

Death and legacy

Bronson spent the last few years in Laguna Beach. She died in a San Clemente, California hospital on August 2, 1995.[1][2]

"Old Woman of the Freeway" mural tributes & controversy

In 1974, muralist Kent Twitchell chose a photo of Bronson to use as the model for a huge mural, titled "The Old Woman of the Freeway", to paint on a wall of a Downtown Los Angeles building which looked down from the Angeles Prince Hotel in Echo Park onto the Hollywood Freeway,[4] which depicted Bronson with an Afghan draped around her body in the context of promotional events, Cultural level organized by the local county. The mural was then subject to a legal dispute with the owners of the building that first brought it to cover in 1986 and then to a partial restoration that began in 1992.[1]

In early 2016, after years of legal wrangling amidst offers from numerous vending suitors, Twitchell was finally successful in getting Los Angeles Valley College to approve an agreement to repaint his original "Lady of the Freeway" mural, with a $180,000 offer to recreate her courtesy of a voter-approved community colleges bond-building program.[4]

The original 1974 "Freeway Lady" mural had become victim to neglect by L.A. city officials, as a garage was built to obscure Bronson's bottom half and then a billboard company had whitewashed the image in 1986. Then, in 1995, while being repainted after a legal settlement, L.A.’s taggers killed off the Freeway Lady project with graffiti.[4][2]

In 1994, a plan to rehang the mural outside the Valley Institute of Visual Arts in Sherman Oaks, California had died when a property owner refused to allow Twitchell access.[2][4]

Selected filmography


  1. Oliver, Myrna (August 4, 1995). "Obituaries : Lillian Bronson; Longtime Actress, Model for Mural - Los Angeles Times". Los Angeles Times ( Retrieved August 8, 2017.
  2. "Lillian Bronson, 92, Character Actress". New York Times(.com). August 5, 1995. Retrieved August 8, 2017.
  3. Lillian Bronson on IMDb
  4. "LA's Freeway Lady mural to be retired in San Fernando Valley". Los Angeles Daily News (.com). April 13, 2016. Retrieved August 8, 2017.
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