Prolific TV Actress Phyllis Avery Dies at 88


Phyllis Avery, who played the wife of Ray Milland in 75 episodes of the 1953-55 CBS comedy Meet Mr. McNulty, died May 19 of heart failure at her home in Los Angeles. She was 88.

In McNutley (later called The Ray Milland Show), Milland played a professor at a college for girls, with Avery as his wife, Peggy.

During her 50-year career, the petite blonde also co-starred in the 1960-62 CBS soap opera The Clear Horizon and on such shows as Peter Gunn, Have Gun -- Will Travel, The Rifleman, The Millionaire, Rawhide and Perry Mason.

In the mid-'60s, Avery went on to a career selling real estate in West Los Angeles but continued on TV with stints on All in the Family, Maude, Charlie's Angels and Baretta. In the 1990s, she appeared on the series Coach and in the 1993 film Made in America.

Born in New York to screenwriter Stephen Morehouse Avery (1948's Every Girl Should Be Married, starring Cary Grant) and Evelyn Martine, Avery made her Broadway debut in the 1937 production of Orchids Preferred. After graduating from the American Academy of Dramatic Arts, she played one of the featured ingenues in the 1940 stage hit Charley's Aunt with Jose Ferrer.

In the morale-boosting World War II-era production of Winged Victory, Avery appeared opposite actor Don Taylor (the husband of Elizabeth Taylor in the two Father of the Bride movies), to whom she was married a year later. They divorced in 1955.

Avery made her movie debut in Queen for a Day (1951) and also appeared in the films Ruby Gentry (1952) and The Best Things in Life Are Free (1956).

Survivors include daughters Avery and Anne and granddaughter Martine.

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