Wednesday, June 2, 2021

Arlene Golonka Passes On

Arlene Golonka, who played Millie Swanson on Mayberry R.F.D. and appeared in such movies as Penelope (1966) and Hang 'Em High (1968), died on May 31 2021 at the age of 85. The cause was complications from Alzheimer's disease.

Arlene Golonka was born on January 23 1936 in Chicago. She studied acting at the Goodman Theatre there. She moved to New York City where she became part of The Actors Studio. She made her debut on Broadway in Night Circus in 1958. In 1959 she appeared again on Broadway in Take Me Along. She made her television debut in an episode of The United States Hour.

In the Sixties, Arlene Golonka appeared on Broadway in Come Blow Your Horn; One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest; Ready When You Are, C.B.!;  and The Wayward Stork. On television Miss Golonka had a recurring role on the daytime serial The Doctors and appeared in two episodes of The Andy Griffith Show as Howard Sprague's girlfriend Millie Hutchins. She had a regular role on Mayberry R.F.D. as Sam Jones's girlfriend Millie Swanson. She guest starred on the shows Naked City; Car 54, Where Are You?; The Defenders; The Nurses; Vacation Playhouse; ABC Sage 67; The Flying Nun; The Big Valley; Accidental Family; Get Smart; I Spy; and That Girl. She made her film debut in an uncredited role in Love with the Proper Stranger in 1963. She appeared in the films Diary of a Bachelor (1964), Harvey Middleman, Fireman (1965), Penelope (1966), The Busy Body (1967), Welcome to Hard Times (1967), and Hang 'Em High (1968).

In the Seventies, Arlene Golonka continued to appear on Mayberry R.F.D. Later in the decade she was a regular on the short-lived show Joe & Valerie. She guest starred on the TV shows The Bold Ones: The Lawyers; Sarge; The Rookies; The F.B.I.; Owen Marshall, Counsellor at Law; The Delphi Bureau; Young Dr. Kildare; M*A*S*H; Cannon; All in the Family; Faraday and Company; Love, American Style; Chase; The Mary Tyler Moore Show; The Girl with Something Extra; The Manhunter; Police Woman; The Wide World of Mystery; Barnaby Jones; The Family Hodiak; Maude; The Cop and the Kid; Mary Hartman, Mary Hartman; Bert D'Angelo/Superstar; The Streets of San Francisco; Alice; Most Wanted; The San Pedro Beach Bums; Carter County; The Rockford Files; Police Story; One Day at a Time; Taxi; Sweepstakes; and Secrets of Midland Heights. She was a regular voice on the Saturday morning cartoon Speed Buggy. She appeared in the movies Airport '77 (1977), The In-Laws (1979), and The Last Married Couple in America (1980).

In the Eighties Arelena Golonka provided additional voices on the Saturday morning show The New Yogi Bear Show. She guest starred on Trapper John, M.D.; Insight; Fantasy IslandThe Love Boat; CBS Afternoon Playhouse; Gimme a Break!; The Best of Times; Simon & Simon; Benson; New Love, American Style; Valerie; The Bronx Zoo; We Got It Made; Dragnet; Growing Pains; Murder, She Wrote; and 1st & Ten. She appeared in the movies Separate Ways (1981), Longshot (1981), My Tutor (1983), Detective School Dropouts (1996), Survival Game (1987),  Dr. Alien (1989), Trained to Kill (1989), The Gumshoe Kid (1990), and The End of Innocence (1990).

In the Nineties Miss Golonka guest starred on the TV shows Drexell's Class, In the Heat of the Night, Matlock, Fudge, and The Boys Are Back. She appeared in the movies Amore! (1993), Cops n Roberts (1995), and Leather Jacket Love Story. In the Naughts she appeared in the movie A Family Affair (2001) and the TV show King of Queens.

She was also part of the cast of a hit comedy album, You Don't Have to Be Jewish, in 1965. When she proved unavailable for the follow-up album, When You're in Love, the Whole World is Jewish, Miss Golonka suggested her roommate, Valerie Harper. 

Arlene Golonka will probably always be remembered best as Millie on Mayberry R.F.D. and the many other bubbly, quirky blondes she played over the years. And while Miss Golonka will most likely be remembered best for her work in comedy, she did play other sorts of roles. She played a prostitute in the movie Hang 'Em High and the "other woman" in an affair with a married man in an episode of In the Heat of the Night. In the Cannon episode "The Dead Samaritan" she played a none-too-success, aspiring actress. Certainly, Arlene Golonka had a gift for comedy, but she was also at home with more serious material as well.

No comments: