Friday, February 19, 2010

Deathday: Madge Blake 1899-1969 RIP

Madge Blake (née Cummings; May 31, 1899 – February 19, 1969) was an American character actress most famous for her role as Aunt Harriet Cooper on ABC's Batman TV series of the 1960s.
Early life

Madge Blake's father, Albert Cummings, was a Methodist minister and discouraged her entry into acting. As such, she stayed out of acting until later in life. During World War II she and her husband worked in Utah during construction of the detonator for the atomic bomb and performed such jobs as testing equipment destined for the Manhattan Project.

Though she was five years his senior, she was a niece of actor Milburn Stone. She took advantage of his influence to help her land acting roles. In the middle 1950s, she appeared on Rod Cameron's City Detective crime drama and in Ray Milland's sitcom, Meet Mr. McNutley, renamed in the second season as The Ray Milland Show.

Acting career

In addition to her Batman role, Blake portrayed the baffled Margaret Mondello, mother of Larry Mondello (played by Rusty Stevens) on Leave It to Beaver (1957), gushy gossip columnist Dora Bailey in Singin' in the Rain (1952), and was a model for one of the fairies in Disney's animated version of Sleeping Beauty (1959). In 1961, she guest starred in the episode "A View of Murder" of the crime drama The Brothers Brannagan.

Blake portrayed the role of "Flora McMichael", a romantic interest to Walter Brennan's "Grandpa Amos McCoy" in ABC's The Real McCoys, a popular 1950s and 1960s situation comedy about a West Virginia mountainfamily that relocated to southern California. Prior to her role in Batman, she appeared in the pilot episode of The Addams Family (broadcast in the U.S in September 1964) as Miss Comstock, an official from the Addams' children's school. Blake also appeared in a memorable episode of I Love Lucy in 1957 with George Reeves guest-starring as Superman.

At one point, the producers of Batman wanted to fire Blake for unknown reasons. Adam West, with whom she'd become friends, stood up for her and she kept her job. The next day, he found a freshly baked cake in his dressing room.

Declining health

Declining health saw her role as Aunt Harriet reduced, and with the introduction of Batgirl in the third and final season of Batman she only appeared in two episodes that season as a guest role.


She was admitted to a hospital after falling at home and fracturing her ankle. She died in the hospital from a heart attack, aged 69, not long after the series was cancelled. She is interred in the Grand View Memorial Park Cemetery in Glendale, California.

Adam's Rib (1949)
A Life of Her Own (1950)
Between Midnight and Dawn (1950)
Finders Keepers (1951)
The Prowler (1951)
M (1951)
No Questions Asked (1951)
Queen for a Day (1951)
Rhubarb (1951)
A Millionaire for Christy (1951)
An American in Paris (1951)
Singin' in the Rain (1952)
Skirts Ahoy! (1952)
Washington Story (1952)
Something for the Birds (1952)
The Iron Mistress (1952)
It Grows on Trees (1952)
The Bad and the Beautiful (1952)
It Happens Every Thursday (1953)
The Band Wagon (1953)
Dangerous Crossing (1953)
The Long, Long Trailer (1954)
Rhapsody (1954)
Fireman Save My Child (1954)
Brigadoon (1954)
Ricochet Romance (1954)
Ain't Misbehavin' (1955)
The Private War of Major Benson (1955)
It's Always Fair Weather (1955)
The Tender Trap (1955)
Glory (1956)
Please Murder Me (1956)
The Solid Gold Cadillac (1956)
Kelly and Me (1957)
Designing Woman (1957)
Loving You (1957)
All Mine to Give (1957)
The Heart Is a Rebel (1958)
Please Don't Eat the Daisies (1960)
Sergeants 3 (1962)
Looking for Love (1964)
The Trouble with Angels (1966)
The Last of the Secret Agents? (1966)
Batman (1966)
Follow Me, Boys! (1966)

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