One of the great comedic actresses of The Golden Age of Hollywood, Eve Arden (April 30, 1908 November 12, 1990) had a career that spanned more than half a century and encompassed stage, film, radio, and television.
Arden was born Eunice Quedens in Mill Valley, California. Interested in show business from an early age, she quit school and joined the stage. She had a few bit parts here and there, and even appeared in two films under her real name. Success came in the mid-1930s after she changed her name to "Eve Arden" and secured several One-Scene Wonder roles in the films Oh, Doctor and Stage Door. The success meant that she was eternally typecast as the Deadpan Snarker for the rest of her career, and she was too funny and snarky to be a leading lady. However she was still a very in-demand actress, and appeared in several famous films. She even received a Best Supporting Actress nomination for her role as Ida in Mildred Pierce.
Eve's best known project was Our Miss Brooks. It initially aired as a radio show, before getting moved to television. It received four seasons and a feature film. Her next project The Eve Arden Show wasn't as successful, but she still made appearances here and there over the next three decades - still as a snarky one-scene wonder. That's her as the principal in Grease. She died in 1990 of heart problems. Having concealed her age for most of her career, her tombstone confirms that she was eighty-two when she died.
- Oh, Doctor (1937) as Shirley Truman
- Stage Door (1937) as Eve
- Ziegfeld Girl (1941) as Patsy Dixon
- Cover Girl (1944) as Cornelia Jackson
- Mildred Pierce (1945) as Ida Corwin
- My Reputation (1946) as Ginna Abbott
- The Voice of the Turtle (1947) as Olive Lashbrooke
- One Touch of Venus (1948) as Molly Grant
- Our Miss Brooks (195256) as Constance Brooks
- The Eve Arden Show (195758) as Liza Hamilton
- Anatomy of a Murder (1959) as Maida Rutledge
- The Mothers-in-Law (196769) as Eve Hubbard
- Grease (1978) as Principal McGee
- Grease 2 (1982)
- Under the Rainbow (1981) as The Duchess
This actress provides examples of:
- Billing Displacement: In One Touch of Venus she's billed before Olga San Juan and Tom Conway, who play more significant roles. This was apparently because filmmakers found her stealing the show.
- ...But I Play One on TV: After the popularity of Our Miss Brooks, she received several offers from high school students to become their English teacher.
- Creator Couple: She and her husband, Brooks West, starred in Anatomy of a Murder.
- The Danza:
- Dyeing for Your Art: For the film The Hour of Enchantment her blonde hair was dyed red, so as not to compete with Doris Day.
- Hollywood Homely: Critics at the time often wondered why Eve was cast as the Hollywood Dateless best friend."Why is it that she, strikingly attractive, wittier and more human than other females in her pictures, is always pictured as lonely, unwanted and unsung? In real life, I'm sure Eve is the belle of the ball."
- Lying Creator: She lied about her age constantly during her life. According to her tombstone, she was eighty-two when she died.
- Real-Life Relative: Her husband Brooks West stars alongside her in Anatomy Of A Murder.
- Reality Subtext: Her line in The Unfaithful - "Every morning you open up the paper, there's another body in a weed-covered lot," - is referring to the Black Dahlia case.
- Those Two Actors: Made three films with Zachary Scott - The Unfaithful, Mildred Pierce and Whiplash (no, not that one).
- Throw It In!: During one performance on the stage, someone attempted to prank her by interrupting a monologue by making the prop telephone ring on stage. Eve apparently picked up the phone, improvised a conversation, handed the phone over to the actor playing her husband (who was in on the joke), said "it's for you" and went on with the scene after he had ad-libbed a conversation.
- Typecasting: She was always the Deadpan Snarker and a sensible career-woman, usually in the best friend role and unlucky in love.
- What Could Have Been:
- She starred in several preview performances of Broadway's Moose Murders but got fired after disagreements with the director, and replaced with Holland Taylor. The show ended up as one of Broadway's biggest flops, closing after only one performance.
- Her part in Stage Door was very small originally. But it was expanded during filming and became something of a Star-Making Role for her.