Classic TV fans are mourning the departure of the last surviving adult recurring cast member of I Love Lucy, Shirley Mitchell. Mitchell reportedly became friends with Lucille Ball while the famous redhead was working on radio’s My Favorite Husband. Joining the I Love Lucy TV cast for three episodes during the third season, Mitchell played “Lucy’s friend with the funny laugh”, Marion Strong.
Never an A-list television star, Ms. Mitchell had a long and busy career in supporting roles on Perry Mason, Petty Coat Junction, The Dick Van Dyke Show, The Beverly Hillbillies, Trapper John MD and many others. One of her last appearances was voice-over work as Betty White in MAD TV’s “Betty White and the Huntsman/Ancient Greek Mythbusters” in 2012.
Shirley Mitchell got her start playing on various radio Soap Operas on Chicago radio, including The Story of Mary Marlin and The Road of Life. Relocating to LA, she appeared on The Sealtest Village Store. She also landed a role on Fibber McGee and Molly as the man-hungry War factory worker, Alice Darling.
OTR fans may remember Ms. Mitchell best for her role as Leila Ransom, one of The Great Gildersleeve’s earliest love interests. The charismatic Widow Ransom lived next door to Gildy and was engaged to The Great Man on at least two occasions. The first time Gildy began to get cold feet as the blessed day approached, but it was Leila who left him at the alter. A couple seasons later Gildy finds himself engaged to Leila and her cousin Adeline Fairchild (Una Merkel) at the same time.
Shirley Mitchell passed away due to heart failure in her Westwood condominium earlier this month, on November 11, 2013. She was 94.
Goodbye Leila, Good night Shirley Mitchell.