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Isabel Randolph

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Isabel Randolph
Isabel Randolph in The Missing Corpse 1945.jpg
Isabel Randolph in The Missing Corpse 1945
Born(1889-12-04)December 4, 1889
DiedJanuary 11, 1973(1973-01-11) (aged 83)
Resting placeCalifornia
Years active1910–1966
Spouse(s)J. C. Ryan (?-1917)[1]

Isabel Randolph (December 4, 1889 – January 11, 1973) was an American character actress in radio and film from the 1940s through the 1960s and in television from the early 1950s to the middle 1960s.

Early life

She was born in 1889 in Chicago, the daughter of Alexander and May (nee Franklin) Randolph.



Randolph acted in regional theater all over the American Midwest, from the pre-World War I era up to the start of her radio career in the mid-1930s.[2] She became leading lady at the Princess Theater in Des Moines, Iowa in 1917[3] and was still acting there in 1918,[4] and, in 1931, at the Loyola Community Theater in Chicago.[5] On Broadway, Randolph portrayed Mrs. Pembrook in If I Was Rich (1926) and Henrietta Scott in Ink (1927).[6]


Isabel Randolph gained nationwide popularity on the radio show Fibber McGee and Molly (on the air 1935–1959), where she began in various "snooty" roles January 13, 1936,[7] eventually becoming a long-running series character, the pompous Mrs. Abigail Uppington, a snooty society matron whom Fibber addressed as "Uppy," and whose pretensions Fibber delighted in deflating. She stayed with the comedy series for seven years until the show began its eighth season in the fall of 1943.[8]

She also starred as the wife in NBC's soap opera Dan Harding's Wife (on the air January 20, 1936 through February 10, 1939),[9] and was in the cast of two other serials, One Man's Family[10] and The Story of Mary Marlin.[11]


Even while young, Randolph specialized in middle-aged "grand dame" roles on stage and radio, continuing in these roles when she entered films in 1940. She re-created her character of Mrs. Uppington in RKO's Look Who's Laughing in 1941 and Here We Go Again in 1942, both spin-offs of the Fibber McGee and Molly radio series. In 1943, she co-starred in the Republic musical O, My Darling Clementine.[citation needed]

She worked in more than a few 1940s films with Lucille Ball. Randolph also was prominently featured in Hoosier Holiday, a 1945 movie from Republic Pictures. She played many small roles in major pictures, and starred in major (though stereotypical) roles in B-pictures — though, in at least one Republic Studios western of the early 1950s (Thundering Caravans, one of the Sheriff Rocky Lane film series), she was cast against type as an evil criminal mastermind.[citation needed]


In her television career from 1951 to 1966, Isabel appeared most often on comedies, with an occasional drama (such as Perry Mason).[citation needed] She was a member of the cast of The Jerry Colonna Show on ABC in 1951.[12] Her first role on television was a protagonist on the 1951 version of Dick Tracy[citation needed] She played the recurring character of neighbor Mrs. Boone in Meet Millie,[12]: 678  one of the first of the sitcom hits for CBS in 1954. She was seen as private-school proprietress Mrs. Nestor during the final (1955–1956) season of Our Miss Brooks. She was also a regular comedic actor in 1952 on The Abbott and Costello Show, and from 1957–1962 on The Red Skelton Show.

In 1958, Randolph appeared as Grandma Wilkins on the episode "Wyatt Earp Rides Shotgun" of the ABC/Desilu western series, The Life and Legend of Wyatt Earp. In the story line, deputy Wyatt Earp (Hugh O'Brian) is trying to stop the Dan Purvis gang from attacking Wells Fargo and encounters unexpected help from Grandma Wilkins in his task. Mason Alan Dinehart appears in this episode a young Bat Masterson.[citation needed]

Randolph appeared in The Andy Griffith Show episodes "A Plaque for Mayberry" and "Rafe Hollister Sings". One of her last appearances on television was in 1966 in her recurring role as Clara Petrie, the mother of Rob (Dick Van Dyke) on The Dick Van Dyke Show. Later that year she concluded her television career when she played the role of Madam Rosa Bruening in the Perry Mason episode, "The Case of the Misguided Model."[citation needed]

Personal life

Randolph died January 11, 1973, in Burbank, California, survived by two daughters.[citation needed]

Selected filmography

Randolph worked on over seventy films from 1939 to 1959. Among them were:


  1. ^
  2. ^ Jones, Ken D.; McClure, Arthur F; Twomey, Alfred E. (1976) "Character People" A.S. Barnes, ISBN 0-498-01697-8, p. 170
  3. ^ "The week's bills at the Des Moines play houses". The Des Moines Register. Iowa, Des Moines. October 21, 1917. p. 37. Retrieved June 18, 2020 – via
  4. ^ University of Virginia (1951) "Iowa Journal of History (Volume 49): the Princess Theater of Des Moines", State Historical Society of Iowa, pp. 13, 21 (available online at the Google Books online archive; accessed January 1, 2017.
  5. ^ National Collegiate Players (1931) "Players (Volumes 8-100)", University of Michigan (p. 23); accessed January 1, 2017.
  6. ^ "Isabel Randolph". Internet Broadway Database. The Broadway League. Archived from the original on June 18, 2020. Retrieved June 18, 2020.
  7. ^ Dunning, John (1998) "On the Air: the Encyclopedia of Old-Time Radio" Oxford University Press US; ISBN 0-19-507678-8, p. 245
  8. ^ "Radio: Fibber McGee and Molly" (review), Billboard, October 16, 1943, p. 12 (also available at the Google Books online archive; accessed January 1, 2017.
  9. ^ Cox, Jim (2005) "Historical Dictionary of American Radio Soap Operas" Eowman & Littlefield, ISBN 978-0-8108-5323-2, p. 69
  10. ^ Cox, Jim "Historical Dictionary of American Radio Soap Operas" (2005), Eowman & Littlefield; and television's Ben Jerrod, Attorney at Law. ISBN 978-0-8108-5323-2, p. 161
  11. ^ Terrace, Vincent (1999). Radio Programs, 1924–1984: A Catalog of More Than 1800 Shows. McFarland & Company, Inc. p. 318. ISBN 978-0-7864-4513-4.
  12. ^ a b Terrace, Vincent (2011). Encyclopedia of Television Shows, 1925 through 2010 (2nd ed.). Jefferson, NC: McFarland & Company, Inc., Publishers. p. 531. ISBN 978-0-7864-6477-7.

External links

This page was last edited on 7 January 2022, at 20:45
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