Thursday, June 6, 2013

The Two Mrs. Kravitz, Mrs. Tate & Mrs. Ziffel

There are classic TV shows that we are all familiar with wherein key supporting cast members were replaced with another actor and you may not have noticed.

first Gladys Kravitz on BewitchedOf course, the story of the two Darrins on Bewitched is well-known, but did you notice there were two different Mrs. Kravitz, the nosy neighbor? The first Mrs. Kravitz, my favorite, was Alice Pearce who won a posthumous Emmy Award for her hilarious portrayal of the Stephens' perpetually hysterical snoop across the street. She was a big part of what made Bewitched so darn funny that first season in particular.


Sandra Gould, the second Gladys Kravitz on BewitchedSadly, Alice Pearce died of Ovarian cancer in 1966 before completing season two. As a result, Mary Grace Canfield, who was also appearing as Ralph the carpenter on Green Acres at the time, stepped in for four episodes playing Abner's sister Harriet Kravitz. She proved to be equally nosy while dusting the drapes; the Kravitz's had the cleanest drapery in... whatever town it was they lived in!

Sandra Gould assumed the role of Gladys Kravitz beginning season three, she did a great job keeping that one joke going for years past its sell by date - but I missed the nails-on-chalkboard raspiness that Alice Pearce's voice possessed.

On the same series Louise Tate, wife of Darrin's boss Larry, was also replaced after season two. Lofty, catty Irene Vernon originated the role before a more sedate Kasey Rogers took over. Vernon was pressured to leave the series after her friend, writer Danny Arnold (who, in many estimations, made the series what it was), left on acrimonious terms after year one.

Here's Irene Vernon in a colorized episode:

 An episode with Kasey Rogers:

Sharp viewers may have done a double take with two new cast members on Bewitched playing familiar roles... but then the 1966-67 season was the first year in color. That was a huge change in and of itself.

GREEN ACRES: Another key supporting character played by two actors on a popular sitcom of the day was Mrs. Ziffel from Green Acres.

Barbara Pepper :

Barbara Pepper, the first Mrs Ziffel on Green AcresZaftig Barbara Pepper was originally seen in the role of Mr. Ziffel's constantly complaining farm wife and doting 'mom' to Arnold the pig.

Barbara Pepper, the first Mrs Ziffel on Green AcresFew at home guessed this frumpy housefrau was once a sex kitten in motion pictures of the '30s & '40s. A heart ailment led to massive weight gain and ultimately forced her to give up the job on Green Acres. She died just a few months after leaving the show.

Fran Ryan the second Mrs Ziffel on Green AcresWhen Fran Ryan stepped in as Mrs. Ziffel in 1969 it was seamless. She easily inhabited the role, adding a sardonic edge while continuing the essence of what made Barbara Pepper's daffy portrayal so fresh.