Alice Ghostley



Born: August 14, 1924
Vernon County, Missouri

Died: September 21, 2007
Studio City, California

Alice Ghostley, the stage and television actress whose sweetly befuddled face was familiar to millions, died Sept. 21, 2007, at her home in Studio City, CA. Her age was variously given as 81 and 83. Diminutive with small eyes and a pixieish haircut, Ms. Ghostley was an expert at playing dim or eccentric characters who throw straight arrows off balance with a mix of retiring sweetness, wacky logic and bold opinion. She was Esmeralda, the inept witch on the 1960s sitcom "Bewitched," and oddball neighbor Bernice on the 1980s comedy "Designing Women." She made appearances on dozens of other television shows, including "Evening Shade" and "Love, American Style," employing her trademark quavering voice, which lent added comic spin to her punchlines.

Obituary: Alice Ghostley made her Broadway debut in Leonard Sillman's New Faces of 1952, alongside Eartha Kitt and Paul Lynde. In it, she sang "Boston Beguine," written by a neophyte songwriter named Sheldon Harnick. In 1954 she appeared in the short-lived musical Sandhog and the next year in the Leonard Bernstein-composed "Trouble in Tahiti" section of All in One. Another ill-fated musical, Shangri-La, followed in 1956.

Ms. Ghostley played a wide variety of characters in A Thurber Carnival, a revue based on the work of humorist and cartoonist James Thurber that ran for nine months in 1960. In 1962 she starred in the S.J. Perelman comedy The Beauty Part.

Ironically, given the comic bent of her work, she won her Tony Award for a dramatic role in Lorraine Hansberry's second and last work The Sign in Sidney Brustein's Window.

Ms. Ghostley is survived by her sister, Gladys. Her husband, the actor Felice Orlandi, died in 2003.



Playbill Cover - Annie Annie
Apr. 21, 1977 - Jan. 2, 1983
Miss Hannigan
Aug. 15, 1978
Playbill Cover - The Sign in Sidney Brustein's Window The Sign in Sidney Brustein's Window
Oct. 15, 1964 - Dec. 26, 1964
Mavis Parodus Bryson Performer
Playbill Cover - The Beauty Part The Beauty Part
Dec. 26, 1962 - Mar. 9, 1963
Grace Fingerhead Performer
    Kitty Entrail Performer
    Octavia Weatherwax Performer
Playbill Cover - A Thurber Carnival A Thurber Carnival
Feb. 26, 1960 - Nov. 26, 1960
Narrator Performer
    Nellie Performer
    Salesgirl Performer
    She Performer
    Jeanette Gaines Performer
    Miss Whittaker Performer
Maybe Tuesday
Jan. 29, 1958 - Feb. 1, 1958
Lois Performer
Livin' the Life
Apr. 27, 1957 - May 19, 1957
Aunt Polly Performer
Playbill Cover - Shangri-La Shangri-La
Jun. 13, 1956 - Jun. 30, 1956
Miss Brinklow Performer
All in One
Apr. 19, 1955 - May 28, 1955
Dinah Performer
Playbill Cover - Sandhog Sandhog
Nov. 23, 1954 - Jan. 2, 1955
Sheela Cavanaugh Performer
Playbill Cover - Leonard Sillman's New Faces of 1952 Leonard Sillman's New Faces of 1952
May 16, 1952 - Mar. 28, 1953
Elsie Performer
    Mother Performer
    Featured Singer Performer
    John Jerome's Wife Performer
    Lady Sylvia Malpractice Performer
    Madame Flora Performer
    Mae Performer
    Marcella Performer


Tony Award

Year Category Production Winner/Nominee
1965 Featured Actress in a Play The Sign in Sidney Brustein's Window Winner
1963 Featured Actress in a Play The Beauty Part Nominee
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