Wednesday, July 11, 2012

RETA SHAW (1912 - 1982)

Reta Shaw, born September 13, 1912, in South Paris, Maine, was an American character actress known for playing authoritative women, housekeepers, and domineering wives, especially on television. She appeared on Broadway in her comic role as Mabel in the original production of The Pajama Game in 1952, as well as in Gentlemen Prefer Blones, Picnic, and Annie Get Your Gun, the last on tour with Mary Martin. She had featured roles in several motion pictures, including Picnic, The Pajama Game, Mary Poppins, Pollyanna, The Ghost and Mr. Chicken, Bachelor in Paradise, and Escape to Witch Mountain.

On television, she was seen with Red Skelton, Bob Hope, Lucille Ball, Andy Griffith, and Patty Duke, and appeared on Wally Cox's Mr. Peepers series, Armstrong Circle Theater, Alfred Hitchcock Presents, The Millionaire, and The Dick Van Dyke Show. She is best remembered as the housekeeper on TV's The Ghost & Mrs. Muir. She appeared in the first season of The Ann Sothern Show in the role of Flora Macauley, the overbearing wife of the gentlemanly hotel owner Jason Macauley (played by Ernest Truex). In the 1960-1961 television season, she played the housekeeper, Thelma, to Tab Hunter's character Paul Morgan, a young cartoonist, in The Tab Hunter Show. Shaw again played a housekeeper in the 1961-1962 CBS series Ichabod and Me, starring Robert Sterling and George Chandler. Shaw's character of Bertha/Hagatha, a matronly witch, was a recurring role on TV's Bewitched. She played escaped convict Big Maud Tyler in an episode of The Andy Griffith, entitled "Convicts at Large". She appeared again in season four as Eleanora Poultice, the educated voice teacher of the legendary Barney Fife. She also appeared in an episode of I Dream of Jeannie entitled "Jeannie and the Wild Pipchicks" where she played a strict dietician who has her innermost inhibition released (in her case a beautiful butterfly).

Reta Shaw died of emphysema in Encino, California, on January 8, 1982. She was 69 years old. Shaw was cremated and her remains are interred in a niche in the Columbarium of Remembrance at Forest Lawn - Hollywood Hills Cemetery. She was divorced from actor William Forester and had one daughter.


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