Monday, May 31, 2010

Hot Pepper

BARBARA PEPPER
May 31, 1915 - July 18, 1969

Hard to believe, but this Alice Faye doppelganger is the same actress who found latter-day fame as slovenly Doris Ziffel, Arnold the pig's "mother" on Green Acres. Born Marion Pepper in New York City, she initially found fame and notoriety as a Ziegfeld Follies girl, then parlayed that success into a film career. Although she never made it past the B film ranks, Barbara Pepper was a frequent name in the gossip columns, and worked steadily through the 1930's and 1940's. A spate of bad breaks, however, culminated in the traffic accident death of her husband in 1949, leaving the actress destitute and faced with the prospect of raising their two young sons alone. Always zaftig, Pepper gained an enormous amount of weight as she battled depression and alcoholism in the aftermath of the accident; her film career effectively over, she took waitressing and laundress jobs to pay the bills. Her lifelong friend and fellow Follies showgirl Lucille Ball passed along bit parts on I Love Lucy whenever she could; Pepper had desperately wanted the Ethel Mertz role, but with William Frawley already on board as Fred, Lucille and Desi both decided that having two alcoholics on the payroll would be too risky. Her role on Green Acres was a welcome, steady paycheck, but by 1968, Pepper's deteriorating health forced her to leave the show. She passed away the following year, at the tragically young age of 54.

2 comments:

  1. Tragic. It goes to show you though, how booze can kill. People call me a light weight at an occassional beer (at Max - two Martini's on an infrequent evening) but I'll never have the boozy bloat!.

    ReplyDelete
  2. do you think she ever ate her child?

    ReplyDelete

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