Wednesday 9 October 2019

Eve Arden on Teachers and Peepers

Today, if there was an America’s Prettiest Teacher contest, it would reviled and denounced on social media as sexist and objectifying. In the early 1950s, it was welcomed because it broke the stereotype of teachers as old sourpuss crones.

Such a contest was staged in conjunction with the TV/radio show Our Miss Brooks, in which Eve Arden played an independent woman who taught high school. The old sourpuss on the show was a man. Principal Osgood Conklin was played by someone who went on to a career as a bellowing grump—Gale Gordon.

Another career woman was Aline Mosby of the United Press, who was the wire service’s Moscow correspondent but spent time before that on the entertainment beat. She interviewed Arden a number of times and Arden filled in for her twice when he was on holidays.

In the first story, July 12, 1952, Arden talks about the appreciation teachers had for her humanising of their profession. In the second story, June 15, 1954, Arden talks about another teacher—Wally Cox’s Mr. Peepers—and opines about gimmick plots not working (Peepers was cancelled after the 1954-55 season). In the third story, June 24, 1956, she puts her spin on the cancellation of the TV version of Our Miss Brooks (it remained on radio until 1957 with old scripts reused). Arden talks about returning to TV. She did after a year off, but The Eve Arden Show only lasted a season.

Arden’s last series was The Mothers-in-Law, which lasted two lacklustre seasons. She then went on to fame for the post-Brooks generation in the movie Grease and its sequel.

Eve Arden Is School Teacher Idol of Today

United Press Hollywood Writer
Hollywood (UP)—Today’s idol of the nation’s school-teachers is a gal who's rescued them from the horn-rimmed glasses-and-frown legend and given them a shot of sex appeal.
Movies usually caricature teachers as gray-haired monsters who go in for wrist-slapping with a ruler and never give a thought to romance.
But nowadays schoolmarms are voting thanks to Eve Arden and her "Our Miss Brooks” radio and television shows. Eve plays a pretty teacher who has romances, gets into scrapes and spouts bright lines for the pupils.
"I try to show a schoolteacher as a human being,” says Eve. "Too many youngsters think of a teacher as an instrument of discipline instead of as a person.”
The teachers let her know they’re grateful for glamourizing them, too. She recently accepted a gold plaque from the Alumni Association of Teachers’ College in Connecticut "for the best contribution to education by her human characterization of a schoolteacher.”
Thirty more plaques and scrolls from PTA’s, Educational groups and schools hang in the trophy room of her Brentwood home.
Twice she’s been invited to speak at National Teachers’ Conventions in Los Angeles. One group presented her with a golden apple. A community in the East wrote her their new school would be named the "Our Miss Brooks schoolhouse.”
A Hermansville, Mich., high school principal asked her to "please make Miss Brooks play principal for a while. I’d love to see what she'd do in Old Marblehead’s shoes.”
A Stewart, Nev., high school wanted a script of the program to use as a senior class play. And a Gauleybridge, W. V., teacher wrote that her principal suggested she spend her summer vacation in Hollywood in order to see the show.
"I can always tell when there are teachers in the audience at the broadcasting studio," grins Eve. ‘‘Once I had a script about higher pay for teachers, and several in the audience let out a whoop.
“I pattern the part somewhat after a teacher I had when I went to Tamalpals high school in Mill Valley, Calif. She was a lot of fun.
“Too bad more students don’t get to know their teachers socially."

‘Miss Brooks’ to Remain Single on TV Show

United Press Hollywood Writer
HOLLYWOOD (UP)—Eve Arden said today she thinks Mr. Peepers made a mistake by getting married on television, and she’s one single TV character who intends to stay that way.
Wally Cox, who portrays the timid Peepers, recently revolutionized his show by at last catching his lady love in the script. In the lives of citizens who follow such doings on the home screens, this was a major event.
But the “Our Miss Brooks” of television was among those Peeper fans who didn't approve of the video match.
“I think he made a mistake," she said. “Now it’ll be another husband-and-wife show.
“I get many letters from fans who want to see Miss Brooks catch Mr. Boyington [sic] on my program. Oh, we give 'em a teaser now and then, like the time they had a fling but it turned out to be a dream. I’m quite sure Miss Brooks will stay single.
“She’s a schoolteacher, and that's the show. If she got married, it would be a different program.”
Expecting First Baby
Off-screen, the red-haired TV star is very much married. Her last few filmed shows for CBS were harried because she is expecting her first baby in two months. Lucille Ball incorporated her own pregnancy into “I Love Lucy,” but as a spinster schoolteacher Miss Arden could not.
“The last program was rough,” she smiled. “They had to write a script that would allow me to wear an artist’s smock. That show will be on next fall and everyone will think I just didn’t lose weight after the baby was born.”
Turns Farmer
As her second season as Miss Brooks ended, Eve has turned lady farmer. She and her husband, actor Brooks West, and their three adopted children recently moved to a 38-acre ranch 52 miles from the cinema city.
She proudly claims she planted the vegetable garden herself. She and West plan to buy a small herd of sheep and some chickens and plant alfalfa and hay on the land.
“We hope the place will pay for itself eventually,” she said. “The alfalfa will be winter feed for the sheep, which we will raise to sell.
“It's quite a business. Alan Ladd, our neighbor, got his ranch for horses. They cost so much to feed he had to raise chickens and sell the eggs to pay for the horses!
“I love the land,” she added. “Other gals can have their minks and diamonds. I'll take that dirt.”

Eve Arden Explains Why TV Serials Get the Chop

United Press Hollywood Writer
HOLLYWOOD (U.P.)—A platoon of television serials is biting the dust this fall, but one of the departing stars, Eve (“Our Miss Brooks”) Arden, admits she's in favor of the cancellation because serials get “stagnant” after a few years.
Several faces familiar to you armchair viewers won't decorate the TV screens come September. Eve will continue “Our Miss Brooks” on CBS Radio but the television series is finished except for syndication of the reruns.
Off CBS-TV also will be “Navy Log,” “Brave Eagle,” “Four Star Playhouse,” “I Remember Mama,” “It's Always Jan” (Janis Paige) and “Life With Father.”
"Medic" Among Failures
NBC has laid more serial shows to rest: “Medic” (although it may return next spring), “Big Town,” “Frontier" and “It's A Great Life.” (The Jimmy Durante, Milton Berle, Pinky Lee, Gordon MacRae and “Truth or Consequences” programs also will not return this fall).
But, fortunately or unfortunately depending on what you like on TV both networks are rushing in replacements in the serial ranks. CBS new entries are “Oh, Susanna,” (Gale Storm); “Buccaneer,” “The West Point Story” and “Hey, Jeannie” (Jeannie Carson). NBC will try to get ratings with “On Trial” (a “Medic” for lawyers), “Hiram Holliday” (Wally Cox) and “Circus Boy.”
Some Serials Survive
The durable serials which have braved all storms are “I Love Lucy,” “Dragnet,” “The Loretta Young Show,” “Father Knows Best,” “Private Secretary” and “Make Room For Daddy.”
Miss Arden now is thumbing
through offers for other acting roles. She plans to take a year off to accept parts in movies and TV plays. Then, although some stars tire of serials, she’d like to start another one in the fall of 1957.
“For a year I can do just what feel like doing — including travel,” said the wise-cracking redhead.
“Then I’d like to do a fairly different serial, but still a comedy. The problem is to pick a character that will last. We did four years of Brooks on television, and this will be our eighth year on radio I'm glad to be doing something else. You can get in too deep a rut, kinda stagnant, doing the same character year after year.
“Lots of people have written indignant letters about Brooks leaving TV. But the syndication of the episodes will keep it on some stations for years, anyway.”


  1. I listen to OTR every day, and Our Miss Brooks comes up at least once a week. It has aged wonderfully well and is as funny as ever (though Arden is sometimes a tad ... brittle).

    1. Some of the best things of the Our Miss Brooks radio show was Gale Gordon's over-the-top reactions, Eve's sarcasm, and the times the class doofus Stretch Snodgrass would get Miss Brooks so flustered she would start to talk like him: Brooks- "Where's Mr. Conklin's speech?" Stretch- "I ain't got it". Brooks- "I *haven't* got it". Stretch- "I know YOU ain't got it!" Brooks- "Well why ain't you got it?" Stretch- "He ain't give it to me yet!" Brooks- "One of us is getting nowhere in my English class!"

  2. Odd that there's no mention of the OMB feature film in the last article , as it had opened two months before the publication date.

  3. I remember when Gary Collins had Richard Crenna and Eve Arden on his show doing a mini " Brooks " reunion ( Gale Gordon was doing a play at the time and couldn't make it)he referred to Miss Brooks as " Man Chasing ". Eve quickly corrected him saying that Miss Brooks wasn't a man chasing female,she was decisive, she had her sites set on *one* man, and that was Mr.Boyington. The show may have left the air earlier had they married. When the " chase ",or " forbidden fruit " has been taken out of the dynamic, interest seems to wane, leading to dwindling audience, ie," The Farmer's Daughter ", and " I Dream Of Jeannie ". Whenever I catch the radio or television version, I still laugh.