Arlene McQuade, Daughter on 1950s Sitcom 'The Goldbergs,' Dies at 77

Arlene McQuade (right) and Gertrude Berg on “The Goldbergs.”
Arlene McQuade (right) and Gertrude Berg on “The Goldbergs.”
 Courtesy Everett Collection

Arlene McQuade, who played teenage daughter Rosalie on the 1950s sitcom The Goldbergs and later appeared in a terrifying scene in Orson Welles’ classic Touch of Evil, has died. She was 77.

McQuade died Monday in a nursing home in Santa Fe after a long battle with Parkinson’s disease, her daughter, Marita de Vargas, told The Hollywood Reporter.

McQuade was the first wife of actor Valentin de Vargas, who led the group of hoods who terrified Janet Leigh in a darkened Mexican motel room in Touch of Evil (1958). His soon-to-be real-life wife was a member of the threatening group as well. De Vargas died in June 2013.

McQuade, though, is most famous for playing Rosalie on the CBS version of The Goldbergs, which began in 1928 as a daily serial drama on radio.

The program, about an immigrant family assimilating to life in America, was created by Gertrude Berg, who wrote most of the scripts and starred as Jewish matriarch Molly Goldberg. (“Yoo-hoo, Mrs. Bloo-oom,” she often cried out to a neighbor.)

Berg brought The Goldbergs from radio to Broadway and then to CBS television in 1949, with McQuade joining the fictional family that lived in an apartment on 1030 East Tremont Ave. in the Bronx. (Her Rosalie character, as well as that of her brother Sammy, had grown up on radio but was back as a teenager for the CBS version.) Later, the Goldbergs, like many American families, moved from the city to the suburbs.

McQuade stayed with the series for its 1949-56 run. She also appeared as Rosalie on several episodes of Milton Berle's popular variety show and in the 1950 film The Goldbergs (aka Molly).

She was born in New York City on May 29, 1936. Her father was an attorney and a graduate of Fordham University, her mother an artist and homemaker.

McQuade had already worked on radio and television shows when at age 12 she landed a role in the original 1948 Broadway production of Tennessee WilliamsSummer and Smoke. Her performance attracted the attention of CBS executives, who signed her to play Rosalie.

A member of the New York Actors Studio, McQuade inked a contract with Universal Pictures and left for California in 1957.

She also appeared in such TV series as Telephone TimeThe Lawless YearsAlfred Hitchcock PresentsHave Gun -- Will TravelHawaii Five-O and Death Valley Days.

McQuade had a lasting passion for art, with her work including oil and watercolor paintings, wood and glass sculptures, welded sea glass lamps and many other nature-inspired creations. She relocated to Santa Fe in 2002 to live near her son Valentin and Marita.

In addition to her two children, survivors include her granddaughter Nevada and her husband, Chad; grandson Gavin and his wife, Felice; grandson Dylan; great-grandsons Liam and Owen; and sister Sharon.

Twitter: @mikebarnes4

 

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