ALICE GHOSTLEY Biography - Actors and Actresses


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Name: Alice Margaret Ghostley                                                             
Born: 14 August 1926 Eve, Vernon County, Missouri                                         
Died: 21 September 2007 Studio City, California                                           
Alice Margaret Ghostley (August 14, 1926 – September 21, 2007) was a Tony               
Award-winning American actress. She was best known for her roles as Esmeralda on         
Bewitched (in which she had a recurring role from 1969 to 1972), as Cousin Alice         
on Mayberry R.F.D. (1970-1971) and as Bernice Clifton on Designing Women (1986-1993)     
(Emmy Nomination, Best Supporting Actress; 1992).                                         
A veteran of early television, Ghostley appeared as one of the ugly stepsisters           
in the landmark 1957 musical television production of Richard Rodgers and Oscar           
Hammerstein's Cinderella, which starred Julie Andrews in the title role.                 
As a character actress, Ghostley's uneasy and sometimes staccato delivery was             
reminiscent of fellow comic performers Charlotte Rae, Charles Nelson Reilly,             
Billy DeWolfe, and Bewitched alum Paul Lynde.                                             
Ghostley and Lorne together in The Graduate.                                             
Apart from her stage recognition, Ghostley portrayed several well-known                   
recurring characters on situation comedies, beginning with Esmeralda, a shy               
witch who served as a maid and babysitter to the Stephens' household beginning           
in season six of Bewitched. Ghostley's role of Esmerelda was created after the           
passing of Marion Lorne in May 1968, who portrayed the lovable, forgetful Aunt           
Clara. Rather than replace the character, Bewitched producers opted to create a           
new, befuddled character with Esmerelda. Interestingly, Lorne and Ghostley               
appeared side-by-side in The Graduate as partygoers Miss DeWitte and Mrs.                 
Singleman the year before Lorne's passing. Bewitched fans have often joked that           
Lorne was passing her torch on to Ghostley. Ghostley's "Esmerelda" appeared               
in 15 episodes between 1969 and 1972. Ghostley had previously guest starred once         
as a mortal character, "Naomi", during Bewitched 's second season.                       
During this period she also joined the cast of Mayberry R.F.D., playing Cousin           
Alice after Frances Bavier's character, Aunt Bee, was written off the series.             
She appeared in 14 episodes. Throughout the 1970s and 1980s, Ghostley continued           
to lend her recognizable voice and her nervously concerned style as a character           
actress to memorable episodes of popular situation comedies such as Good Times,           
Maude, One Day at a Time, The Odd Couple and What's Happening!!.                         
Between 1986 and 1993, Ghostley portrayed Bernice Clifton on Designing Women.             
She later played Irna Wallingsford in six episodes of Evening Shade. Among many           
other guest roles, she appeared in a flashback episode as the crazed mother-in-law       
of Dorothy Zbornak (Bea Arthur) on The Golden Girls. Ghostley also made a few             
guest appearances on the daytime drama Passions in 2000, playing the ghost of             
Matilda Matthews , a former friend (and later enemy) of the witch Tabitha Lenox.         
Ghostley first came to Broadway in Leonard Sillman's New Faces of 1952 and in             
the film version released in 1954. She appeared in the 1960 revue A Thurber               
Carnival and in The Beauty Part (1962), playing several distinct roles in each.           
She also performed in several musical comedies, including Shangri-La (1956).             
She won the 1965 Tony Award for Best Featured Actress in a Play for her role as           
Mavis Parodus Bryson in Lorraine Hansberry's The Sign in Sidney Brustein's               
Window. In 1978 she succeeded Dorothy Loudon, who had created the role of Miss           
Hannigan in the original Broadway run of the musical Annie.                               
Among her roles in motion pictures, Ghostley appeared in To Kill a Mockingbird (1962),   
playing Stephanie Crawford, the fussy aunt of Dill Harris. She also appeared in           
the film version of Grease as shop teacher Mrs. Murdock (a non-existent role in           
the Broadway version).                                                                   
Ghostley stood in for friend and fellow New Faces alumna Maggie Smith in 1970,           
when Smith won the Academy Award as Best Actress for her starring role in The             
Prime of Miss Jean Brodie but could not attend the ceremony.