Susan Tolsky, the comic book actress who starred as the endearing Biddie Cloom on Here come the brides and as shy secretary Bernadette Van Gilder on Madame’s Place, has passed away. She was 79.
Tolsky died of natural causes at her home on Toluca Lake in Los Angeles on Oct. 9, her sister, Noel Foreman, said. The Hollywood Reporter.
Tolsky also portrayed a high school football coach’s secretary (Rock Hudson) who embeds students in Roger Vadim’s Beautiful girls all in a row (1971) and performed regularly during The new Bill Cosby showa 1972-73 CBS variety show produced by Laugh legend George Schlatter.
On screen, she often wore large, round glasses and used a voice that she described in a 1969 TV Guide interview as ‘a chicken with a hernia’.
“I realized a long time ago that men don’t look at me and gasp and go crazy,” the Texas resident said. “But at least I’m not worried about turning 40.”
Tolsky had a lot of laughs as the wimpy Biddie on ABC’s Here come the brideswhich lasted for two seasons (1968-70) and was loosely based on the Mercer Girls, who were brought to the boom city of Seattle in the 1860s to work as teachers.
She also stood out as Van Gilder in the first syndicated sitcom from 1982-83 Madame’s Placewhich revolved around a sassy puppet (voiced and piloted by Wayland Flowers) who talks to celebrities on the late night talk show she hosts from her Hollywood mansion.
Since the late ’80s, Tolsky has worked primarily as a voice actor on shows, including: foofur, Bobby’s world, Darkwing Duck, Pepper Ann and The Buzz on Maggie.
Tolsky, the younger of two daughters, was born in Houston on April 6, 1943. Her parents, Abe and Sarah, ran a clothing store.
She attended Bellaire High School and then the University of Texas at Austin to pursue a nursing career — she’d worked in hospitals since she was 15 — but then switched to theater and English, graduating in 1967. .
She auditioned for Screen Gems casting director Eddie Foy III, then came to Hollywood and landed on ABC’s 1968 episodes The Second Hundred Years and enchanted before being hired for Here come the brides.
After the start of the series, which starred the more established actors Robert Brown, Bobby Sherman, David Soul and Joan Blondell, Tolsky stuck to a contract with Screen Gems and eventually got one, much to the delight of fans of the series. Seven brides for seven brothers-inspired performance.
In 1972, Tolsky portrayed a crazy neighbor of Lucy Arnaz’s Kim Carter in an episode of CBS’ Here’s Lucy. She was all set to star as Sue Ann Ditbenner in a spin-off starring Arnaz, but the show didn’t pick up.
Her resume also included the films Charley and the angel (1973), Love at first bite (1979), How to beat the high cost of living? (1980) and The Devil and Max Devlin (1981) and guest spots on Love, American style, Quincy, ME, Fantasy Island, Alice, Barney Miller and webster.
Tolsky loved to knit and was an avid reader, her sister said. She never married.
A funeral service was held October 31 at the Angeleno Valley Mortuary in North Hollywood.