Noreen Corcoran, the Adopted Niece on TV's 'Bachelor Father,' Dies at 72

Noreen Corcoran - P
Courtesy Photofest

America watched her grow up on the series, which aired from 1957-62. From a family of young actors, she was recommended by Ronald Reagan for the role.

Noreen Corcoran, who starred as the teenager adopted by her uncle (John Forsythe) on the 1950s-’60s sitcom Bachelor Father, has died. She was 72.

Corcoran died Friday of cardiopulmonary disease at Valley Presbyterian in Van Nuys, her niece, author Mell Corcoran, told The Hollywood Reporter. The actress’s younger brother, Kevin Corcoran, who appeared in the 1957 film Old Yeller and played Moochie on several Disney TV shows, died in October.

On Bachelor Father, which aired on CBS, NBC and ABC from 1957-62, the cute Corcoran starred as Kelly, who comes to live at age 13 with her well-to-do uncle Bentley Gregg (Forsythe), a Beverly Hills attorney, after her parents are killed in an automobile accident. The houseboy Peter (Sammie Tong) helps them get by.

America watched Corcoran grow up during the course of 157 episodes, and Bachelor Father ended just as her character was about to begin college.

Corcoran made her movie debut in Apache Drums (1951) and appeared in such films as Hans Christian Andersen (1952), I Love Melvin (1953), Young Bess (1953) and biopic So This Is Love (1953) before being recommended for the part of Kelly by actor Ronald Reagan, who had seen her screen tests.

After Bachelor Father ended, she was in Gidget Goes to Rome (1963) and starred in The Girls on the Beach (1965); showed up on such TV shows as Dr. Kildare, Ben Casey, Gunsmoke and The Big Valley; and recorded a version of the song “Love Kitten.”

A native of Quincy, Mass., Corcoran was the third of eight children, many of whom acted (in addition to Kevin, their sister, Donna Corcoran, appeared in the 1951 film Angels in the Outfield). The family moved to Santa Monica, and her father worked in maintenance on the MGM lot.

Brian Corcoran, another brother and child actor, died in February 2014.

In addition to her niece and sister Donna, Noreen's survivors include another sister, Kerry.

Twitter: @mikebarnes4

Updated at noon on Jan. 16 with details of death and other survivors.