Susan Cummings (actress)

Susan Cummings (born Gerda Susanne Tafel; July 10, 1930 – December 3, 2016) was a German-American actress active from the 1940s to 1960s, who started as a teenager in the earliest days of commercial television and appeared in several television shows, feature films and on Broadway. Her Tafel birth surname was sometimes printed as Ta Fel.[1]

Susan Cummings
Susan Cummings with Craig Stevens on Peter Gunn (1960)
Gerda Susanne Tafel

(1930-07-10)July 10, 1930
DiedDecember 3, 2016(2016-12-03) (aged 86)
Years active1946-1974
Spouse(s)Wayne Dunafon
(m. 194?; div. 19??)
Keith Larsen
(m. 1953; div. 1960)

Charles T. Pawley
(m. 1962; died 1975)

Robert E. Strasser
(m. 1976)

Early years

Born Gerda Susanne Tafel in Bavaria, Germany she immigrated to the United States at age 8 on March 12, 1938 shortly before the outbreak of World War II. The daughter of Eugen and Mina Tafel, she grew up in Newark, New Jersey, where her father ran a bakery.


Cummings (billed as Suzanne Tafel) was a teenager when she was a regular on the American television variety series At Home, which aired on pioneering New York City television station WCBW (now WCBS-TV) from 1944 to 1945, in the earliest years of commercial television.[2] She first appeared in Broadway theatre in 1945, portraying Susan Peters in Carousel.[3]

During the 1958–59 season, Cummings portrayed Georgia, proprietress of the Golden Nugget Saloon, in the syndicated Western television series Union Pacific.[4]

She made two guest appearances on Perry Mason — one as Lois Fenton in the title role in the 1957 episode, "The Case of the Fan Dancer's Horse," and as Margaret Swaine in the 1959 episode, "The Case of the Lame Canary." She appeared as Patty in the iconic 1962 episode of The Twilight Zone, "To Serve Man". Her final line in that episode was the climactic "It's a cookbook!."[5]'

Personal life

In the late 1940s, Cummings was married to rodeo performer Wayne Dunafon.[2] She married actor Keith Larsen[6] on December 28, 1953, in Ensenada, Mexico she was also married to Charles T. Pawley and Robert E. Strasser.[1][7]


Year Title Role Notes
1946 Merrily We SingSuzanneShort
1951An American in ParisPatron at Flodair CaféUncredited
1954Security RiskJoan Cochran
1955Headline HuntersElsa - ReceptionistUncredited
1956Swamp WomenMarie
1956Secret of Treasure MountainTawana
1957Utah BlaineAngie Kinyon
1957Tomahawk TrailEllen Carter
1958Man from God's CountryMary Jo Ellis
1959Verboten!Helga Schiller / Brent
1966The Street Is My BeatCora
1974A Time For LoveWoman(final film role)
2003Images of Indians: How Hollywood Stereotyped the Native AmericanHerself / Ellen CarterTV movie documentary
Year Title Role Notes
1944-45At Homeherselfearly variety show
1956Science Fiction TheaterEllen Barton / Peggy Kendler2 episodes
1957-59Perry MasonMargaret Swaine / Lois Fenton2 episodes
1958-60Bat MastersonRona Glyn / Lili Napoleon / Valorie Mitchell3 episodes
1959Man with a CameraMonique ThaxterEpisode: "The Positive Negative"
1960The UntouchablesHazel StanleyEpisode: "Little Egypt"
1960GunsmokeStella CarneyEpisode: "The Peace Officer"
1960Peter GunnPaula GarrettEpisode: "The Long Green Kill"
1961LaramieHolly MatthewsSeason 2, Episode 22: "Rimrock"
1961RiverboatTekla KronenSeason 2, Episode 1: "End of a Dream"
1961CheyenneHelen RansomEpisode: "Winchester Quarantine"
1962The Twilight ZonePattyEpisode: "To Serve Man"
1964McHale's NavyReneeEpisode: "The Big Impersonation"


  1. "Keith Larsen's Marriage to Actress Told". The Los Angeles Times. California, Los Angeles. February 1, 1954. p. Part II, P 8. Retrieved January 2, 2019 via
  2. "Article Tells Of Early Television". The Manhattan, Kansas, Republic. Kansas, Manhattan. June 22, 1949. p. 3. Retrieved January 2, 2019 via
  3. "Suzanne Tafel". Internet Broadway Database. The Broadway League. Archived from the original on January 1, 2019. Retrieved January 1, 2019.
  4. Terrace, Vincent (2011). Encyclopedia of Television Shows, 1925 through 2010 (2nd ed.). Jefferson, N.C.: McFarland & Company, Inc., Publishers. p. 1130. ISBN 978-0-7864-6477-7.
  5. Emily VanDerWerff (May 11, 2013). "The Twilight Zone: "The Last Rites Of Jeff Myrtlebank"/"To Serve Man"". The A.V. Club. Retrieved September 16, 2019.
  6. Carroll, Harrison (January 9, 1954). "Glenn Ford Turns Down Millions". The News-Messenger. Ohio, Fremont. p. 4. Retrieved January 1, 2019 via
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