Thursday, February 20, 2014

Mary Grace Canfield Passes On

Mary Grace Canfield, who played Ralph Monroe on Green Acres, died on 15 February at the age of 89. The cause was lung cancer.

Mary Grace Canfield was born on 3 September 1924 in Rochester, New York. She had wanted to act ever since she was a child and studied acting under Jasper Deeter in Rose Valley, Pennsylvania. She made her debut on Broadway in 1947 in the play Galileo. In the Fifties she appeared on Broadway in the productions The Grey-Eyed People, The Frogs of Spring,  and The Waltz of the Toreadors. She made her television debut in 1954 in an episode of Goodyear Playhouse. In the Fifties she made appearances on the TV shows The Best of Broadway, Robert Montgomery Presents, and Play of the Week. She made her film debut in an uncredited role in That Kind of Woman (1959) and played Angelica in Pollyanna (1960).

In the Sixties she had a recurring role on the short lived sitcom The Hathaways. It was in 1965 that she first appeared as Ralph Monroe on Green Acres. With her brother  Alf (Sid Melton), Ralph was one of the Monroe Brothers, carpenters who were continuously working on Oliver Wendell Douglas' (Eddie Albert) farmhouse. Miss Canfield remained with the show for its entire run. During the Sixties she also appeared on the shows Thriller, Alfred Hitchcock Presents, Hazel, The Joey Bishop Show, The Eleventh Hour, The Andy Griffith Show, The Farmer's Daughter, Bewitched, and Adam-12. She appeared in the films The Interns (1962), Come Blow Your Horn (1963),  and Don't Make Waves (1967). She appeared on Broadway in Beekman Place.

From the Seventies to the Nineties she appeared in such shows as The New Doctors; Love, American Style; General Hospital; The Love Boat; Tabitha; Cagney & Lacey; and Alice. She appeared in the television reunion film Return to Green Acres in 1990. She appeared in the films Half a House (1975), Something Wicked This Way Comes (1983), South of Reno (1988), and Young Goodman Brown (1993).

If Mary Grace Canfield appeared frequently on television in the Sixties and Seventies, it was perhaps because she was rather versatile as an actress. On Green Acres Ralph Monroe was strong willed and self assertive, constantly quarrelling with her brother Alf. In contrast, in a guest appearance in The Andy Griifth Show episode "A Date for Gomer" she played a shy, laid-back, socially awkward young woman who is the equally shy, laid-back, socially awkward Gomer Pyle's date. On Bewitched she appeared in four episodes as Abner Kravitz's slightly clueless, overly suspicious sister Harriet. Over the years she played a variety of characters, from housekeepers to nurses, and performed all of them well.

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