Gloria Henry, a 1940s and 1950s B-movie actress best known for her role as the mother on the television series "Dennis the Menace," died on Saturday.
Gloria Henry began her career as a prolific B-movie star, but she is best known for her role as Alice Mitchell, Dennis's gentle mother, on the CBS show. On Saturday, April 3, a day after her 98th birthday, she returned to her creator at her home in Los Angeles. She was 98 years old at the time.
Erin Ellwood, her daughter, announced her death through her Instagram account.
Gloria Eileen McEniry or more popularly known as Gloria Henry was born on April 2, 1923, in New Orleans, Louisiana, and attended Worcester Art Museum School in Worcester, Massachusetts. When she was in her teens, she moved to Los Angeles and started working in radio, where she adopted the surname Henry.
When Ms. Henry was cast as Alice Mitchell, the gentle, tolerant yet frequently horrified mother in "Dennis the Menace," a sitcom based on Hank Ketcham's iconic comic strip, she was only 36 and a veteran of more than two dozen films.
The works of Ms. Gloria Henry
Henry portrayed Alice Mitchell, the patient mother of the mischievous title character created as a newspaper cartoon who wore a shirtwaist coat. Jay North starred in the TV series adaptation, which aired from 1959 to 1963. With his horn-rim shades, sharp-angled suits, and V-neck sweaters, Henry's co-star Herbert Anderson became an iconic TV dad.
On the surface, Dennis (Jay North) seemed to be a sweet little kid, but any time he tried to help or simply do something good, it backfired. The show aired on CBS for four seasons.
Her film debut was in the 1947 drama "Sport of Kings," which was set in Kentucky horse country. Gloria Henry rose to the top of the B-movie industry by starring as a young veterinarian in the film.
She also started acting in B films including "Bulldog Drummond Strikes Back," "Adventures in Silverado," "Riders in the Sky," and "Air Hostess." She was cast as a regular on the TV series "The Files of Jeffrey Jones" in 1952.
Through the mid-1960s, Henry was a regular on television. However, she had a long gap in her resume as she took time away from acting to raise her three children with her 28-year-old husband, architect Craig Ellwood. In 1981, she made a comeback with an appearance in the TV movie "The Brady Brides," a sequel to another classic T.V. show.
Henry appeared in guest roles on shows including "Newhart," "Simon & Simon," "Silver Spoons," "Dallas," "Mr. Belvedere," and "Doogie Howser, M.D." in the 1980s and 1990s. Her last appearance was on an episode of "Parks and Recreation" from 2012.
Before "Dennis the Menace," she had guest roles on "My Little Margie," "Mr. and Mrs. North," "Father Knows Best," and "Perry Mason."
In a 2011 interview with a Los Angeles television network, Henry disclosed that she had a falling out with Columbia Pictures studio chief Harry Cohn while she was under contract with the studio.
"You might get anywhere at this studio, but it'll be over my dead body," Cohn once threatened Henry. Since the series was made by Columbia Pictures, Henry assumed she would never get the part when she first auditioned for "Dennis the Menace." When Cohn died of a heart attack in February 1958, Henry was offered the role and was cast two days later.
Betty White's performance in her 90s, Henry said a decade ago, encouraged her to return to acting. She joked, "She can't have all the work."
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