Irene Tedrow (August 3, 1907 – March 10, 1995) was an American character actress in stage, film, television and radio.
Among her most notable roles are Janet Archer in the radio series Meet Corliss Archer, Mrs. Lucy Elkins on the TV sitcom Dennis the Menace and Mrs. Webb in the stage production Our Town at the Plumstead Playhouse.
Tedrow was born in Denver, Colorado. She earned a BA degree in drama from Carnegie Tech in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania in 1929.
Tedrow studied with Ben Iden Payne, who directed the Memorial Theater at Stratford-on-Avon, in England. She also had three seasons' experience with Maurice Evans' troupe in New York City and touring nationally.
In 1931, Tedrow was a member of the Chautauqua Repertory Theater.
Tedrow was a founding member of San Diego's Old Globe Theater and was cast as an ingénue in the beginning of her career. In 1934, she portrayed eighteen (18) characters in multiple adaptations of Shakespearean plays at The Old Globe during the Chicago Fair. She later joined Orson Welles' Mercury Theater.
She appeared on Broadway even through her eighties, in King Richard III (1937), Hamlet (1938-1939), King Henry IV, Part I (1939), Our Town (1969) and Pygmalion.
As Tedrow grew older, she found more work in films as "the meddling old woman."
One of Tedrow's earliest roles as a regular cast member on a television program was that of Mrs. Ruggles on the first season of The Ruggles (1949-1950). She had a recurring role as Mrs. Elkins on the Dennis the Menace television sitcom from 1959-63.
As a character actor she appeared in many shows, including Lux Video Theatre, Jefferson Drum, Rawhide, The Twilight Zone and The Andy Griffith Show. In 1955, she appeared on The Jack Benny Program as a contestant with Jack Benny on a mock You Bet Your Life segment with Groucho Marx.
In the early 1960s, Tedrow made two guest appearances on Perry Mason, including the role of Amy Douglas in "The Case of the Ominous Outcast," and a role in Bonanza in the episode "Abner Willoughby's Return."
Later she would also appear in Dundee and the Culhane, Diff'rent Strokes, The Rockford Files, Facts of Life, and two episodes of The Mary Tyler Moore Show as Congresswoman Margaret Geddes. In 1976, Tedrow played Mary Ludlow Hall, Eleanor Roosevelt's grandmother in Eleanor and Franklin.
Tedrow's work in radio dated back at least to 1929. As a drama student at Carnegie Institute of Technology, she was master of ceremonies and student director for "Carnegie Tech Day at Gimbel's," which was broadcast on WCAE. A 1937 radio listing shows her as one of the actresses in George Bernard Shaw's Back to Methuselah when it was broadcast on NBC Blue.
During the 1940s and 1950s, Tedrow had quality acting roles in radio productions, including The Baby Snooks Show. Her roles included those shown in the table below.
Aunt Mary Jessie Ward Calvert
Chandu the Magician Dorothy Regent
Jonathan Trimble, Esquire Alice Trimble
Meet Corliss Archer Mrs. Archer
The Nebbs Fannie
This Is Judy Jones Mrs. Jones
Source: On the Air: The Encyclopedia of Old-Time Radio except as noted.
Tedrow's performance in Eleanor and Franklin garnered her one of the first Primetime Emmy Award nominations for "Best Supporting Actress in a Television Comedy or Drama Special." ("Outstanding Single Performance by a Supporting Actress in Comedy or Drama Special - 1976" per the Emmy Awards website) In 1979, she received her second Emmy Award nomination (Outstanding Lead Actress for a Single Appearance in a drama or comedy series) for her role in James at 15.
Tedrow was married to William Kent, who originally had come to the United States as a refugee from Nazi Germany. She "became the mother of a baby girl [the future actress Enid Kent] early in January" in 1945.
On March 10, 1995, Tedrow died of a stroke in Hollywood. Her grave is located at Westwood Village Memorial Park Cemetery. She was a widow at the time of her death and was survived by her children, actress Enid Kent and Roger Kent, and her three grandchildren.
Original Air Date Program Role Episode
1943-1956 Meet Corliss Archer Janet Archer
1944 The Gallant Heart Captain Julia Porter
1944-1961 Aunt Mary Jessie Ward Calvert
1946 Jonathan Trimble, Esquire Alice Trimble
1947 My Friend Irma Louise Cartwright
1947-1951 The Adventures of Philip Marlowe
1948 The George Burns and Gracie Allen Show Martha Dayton "The New Neighbors"
1948-1950 Chandu the Magician Dorothy Regent 1948 Revival Series
1949-1954 Broadway Is My Beat
1951 The Lottery
1953 Lux Radio Theatre Doctor Lucille Duprey "War of the Worlds"
1953 Crime Classics Lizzie Borden "The Bloody, Bloody Banks Of Fall River"
September 6, 1954 Gunsmoke Wife "The Promise (The Handcuffs)"
July 3, 1956 Suspense "The Music Lovers"
Year Title Role Notes
1940 We Who Are Young Office Girl Uncredited
1941 Cheers for Miss Bishop Teacher waving from window Uncredited
1942 Eagle Squadron Woman
1942 The Moon and Sixpence Mrs. MacAndrew Uncredited
1943 Nobody's Darling Julia Rhodes Uncredited
1944 Song of the Open Road Miss Casper (teacher) Uncredited
1945 The Strange Affair of Uncle Harry Mrs. Follinsbee Uncredited
1946 Just Before Dawn Nurse Florence White Uncredited
1947 They Won't Believe Me First Woman Uncredited
1948 The Mating of Millie Receptionist Uncredited
1949 Air Hostess Miss Hamilton
1951 The Company She Keeps Mrs. Seeley
1953 A Lion Is in the Streets Mrs. Sophie Peck Uncredited
1953 Julius Caesar Citizen of Rome Uncredited
1955 Santa Fe Passage Ptewaquin
1956 Slander Marion Gregg, Secretary Uncredited
1957 Loving You Mrs. Jessup Uncredited
1958 Saddle the Wind Mrs. Mary Ellison Uncredited
1960 Please Don't Eat the Daisies Mrs. Greenfield Uncredited
1961 A Thunder of Drums Mrs. Scarborough
1962 Deadly Duo Lenora Spence
1965 The Cincinnati Kid Mrs. Rudd
1970 Getting Straight Mrs. Stebbins
1975 Mandingo Mrs. Redfield
1978 Foul Play Mrs. Monk Comedy mystery-thriller film written and directed by Colin Higgins.
1980 Midnight Madness Mrs. Grimhaus Comedy film directed by Michael Nankin.
1981 All Night Long Loft Landlady Romantic comedy film directed by Jean-Claude Tramont.
Year Title Role Notes
1949 The Ruggles Margaret Ruggles First season only
1955 The Millionaire Countess Turec 1 episode
Letter to Loretta Beatrice 1 episode
1956 The Joseph Cotten Show: On Trial Mrs. Patterson "The Trial of Edward Pritchard"
1957 Highway Patrol Eileen Haley 1 episode
1958 Jefferson Drum Mary Easton "Showdown"
The Real McCoys Mehitabel Swanson (1958)
Northwest Passage Cora Klagg 1 episode
Leave It to Beaver Mrs. Claudia Hathaway 1 episode
1959 Rawhide Minnie Lou 1 episode
1959-1963 Dennis the Menace Mrs. Lucy Elkins 26 episodes
1960 Alcoa Presents: One Step Beyond Dr. J.H. Sesselshreiber 1 episode
Perry Mason Amy Douglas in Ominous Outcast(1960)
Sister Theresa in Nebulous Nephew (1963) 2 episodes
Mr. Lucky Madam Maria 1 episode
The Twilight Zone Mrs. Loren Episode: "The Lateness of the Hour"
1961 Pete and Gladys Mrs. Vincent "The House Next Door"
1961–1962 Father of the Bride Miss Bellamy 2 episodes
1962 The Tall Man Maw Killgore Episode: "Three for All"
1963 Dr. Kildare June Crowley 1 episode
Ensign O'Toole Mrs. Barnes 1 episode
Grindl Nurse Gardiner 1 episode
1964 Burke's Law Librarian 1 episode
1965 Branded Mrs. Wilcox 1 episode
Karen Mrs. Sloat 1 episode
The Andy Griffith Show Mrs. Foster Episode: "Opie's Newspaper"
The Fugitive Maude Keller 1 episode
1966 Hogan's Heroes Jenny 1 episode
1967 The Invaders Clare Lapham 1 episode
The Flying Nun Mother Provincial David 1 episode
Dundee and the Culhane Widow Hughes 1 episode
1968 Bonanza Carrie Picket 1 episode - Episode #304: Different Pines, Same Wind This was Irene Tedrow's third of five appearances in the series.
1969 Family Affair Alice 1 episode
The Mod Squad Eloise 1 episode
1971 Mannix Sara Dawes 1 episode
1972 Banacek Dr. Dora Bancroft 1 episode
1973 Barnaby Jones Mrs. Ryan 1 episodes
1973 Mary Tyler Moore Show Congresswoman Margaret Geddes 2 episodes
1974 Kung Fu Mrs. Stekel 1 episode
Marcus Welby, M.D. Eileen McAdams 1 episode
1975 Little House: A New Beginning Minerva Farnsworth 1 episode
1976 Good Heavens Old Lady 1 episode
Charlie's Angels Sister Anne 1 episode
1977 The Hardy Boys/Nancy Drew Mysteries Ruby 1 episode
Halloween Is Grinch Night Mariah TV Special
1977 Quincy M.E. Doctor Ruth Thaler Episode: "A Question of Time" (S 3:Ep 4)
1978 The Amazing Spider-Man Aunt May "Night of the Clones"
Diff'rent Strokes Mrs. Drummond 1 episode
1978 Three's Company Aunt Martha Episode: "The Older Woman" (S 3:Ep 14)
1979 Salvage 1 Aunt Adah 1 episode
Quincy M.E. Mrs. Osborne Episode"Mode of Death" (s 5:ep 7)
240-Robert Fake Sissie 1 episode
1980 House Calls Mrs. Bruckner 1 episode
Quincy M.E. Mrs. Estes Episode: "The Night Killer" (S 6:Ep 14)
1981 Isabel's Choice Mrs. Harper Made-for-TV-Movie directed by Guy Green.
1982 Trapper John, M.D. Mrs. Pinkler Episode: "Love and Marriage" (S 3:Ep 19)
Quincy M.E. Mrs. Weinecke Episode: "Expert in Murder" (S 3:Ep 20)
Three's Company Miss Arlington Episode: "The Brunch" (S 7:Ep 9)
The Devlin Connection Margaret Hollister Episode: "Erica: (S 1:Ep 12)
1983 The Last Ninja Dr. Sanford Made-for-TV-Movie directed by William A. Graham.
1984 CBS Schoolbreak Special Miss Bowring Episode: "Welcome Home, Jellybean" (S 1:Ep 2)
Family Secrets Mrs. Fenwick Made-for-TV-Movie directed by Jack Hofsiss.
Remington Steele Nanny Perkins Episode: "Blue Blooded Steele" (S 3:Ep 5)
1985 The Paper Chase Mrs. Whitney Episode: "The Day Kingsfield Missed Class" (S 3:Ep 7)
The Facts of Life Grace Episode: "Teacher, Teacher" (S 7: Ep 4)
Magnum, P.I. Mrs. Wilson, the Antique Dealer Episode: "Going Home" (S 6:Ep 6)
1987 St. Elsewhere Guest Episode: "Slip Sliding Away" (S 5:Ep 22)
Punky Brewster Maude Fierstein Episode: "Hands Across the Halls"(S 3:Ep 6)
The New Leave It To Beaver Aunt Martha Bronson Episode"A Part of Life" (S 3:Ep 3)
1988 Episode: "Ensign Cleaver: (S 3:Ep 11)
14 Going on 30 May Made-for-TV-Movie directed by Paul Schneider.
It's Garry Shandling's Show Grandma Shandling Episode: "Garry Falls Down a Hole" (S 2:Ep 16)
L.A. Law Katherine Crutcher Episode: "Open Heart Perjury" (S 2:Ep 18)
1989 A Deadly Silence Grandma Virginia Pierson Made-for-TV-Movie directed by John Patterson.
Year Award Result Category Film or series
1976 Emmy Award Nominated Outstanding Single Performance by a Supporting Actress in Comedy or Drama Special Eleanor and Franklin
1978 Outstanding Lead Actress for a Single Appearance in a Drama or Comedy Series James at 15 For the episode "Ducks"
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