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Arlene Golonka, the bubbly actress who starred on Broadway before working behind the counter at Boysinger’s Bakery on The Andy Griffith Show and Mayberry R.F.D. has died. She was 85.
Golonka died early Monday morning in her sleep at a memory care facility in West Hollywood after a battle with Alzheimer’s, her niece Stephanie Morton-Millstein told The Hollywood Reporter.
Early in her career, Golonka shared a New York apartment with Valerie Harper and played hookers on Broadway in Take Me Along and Kirk Douglas’ One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest. She also was the object of two brothers’ affection in Neil Simon’s first play, Come Blow Your Horn.
She portrayed another prostitute opposite Clint Eastwood in Hang ‘Em High (1968) and was the wife of a CIA agent (Peter Falk) in The In-Laws (1979).
Golonka was introduced as Millie Hutchins during the eighth and final season (1967-68) of CBS’ The Andy Griffith Show. Her sweet, carefree character becomes engaged to county clerk Howard Sprague (Jack Dodson), but a long train trip on the way to the wedding makes it obvious they shouldn’t marry.
When the spinoff Mayberry R.F.D. premiered in September 1968, Golonka’s character was now named Millie Swanson and dating Sam Jones (series star Ken Berry), the head of the town council. She remained on that show for all three of its seasons.
Golonka also had three memorable guest-starring stints on other CBS comedies in the early ’70s. She played Betty Bowerchuck, the daughter of Chuckles the Clown and the girlfriend of Ted Knight, on The Mary Tyler Moore Show; the accident-prone Nurse Eddie on M*A*S*H; and an escort of one of Archie’s old pals (Larry Storch) on All in the Family.
Arlene Leanore Golonka was born in Chicago on Jan. 23, 1936. She studied at the Goodman Theatre in her hometown.
She came to New York and worked as a waitress before landing a part on Broadway in 1958 in The Night Circus. However, she had to return to her diner gig when the drama, starring Ben Gazzara and his wife, Janice Rule, closed after just seven performances.
Golonka found more security in her next Broadway outing, the musical comedy Take Me Along, which starred Jackie Gleason and Robert Morse and ran for 14 months through December 1960.
In 1961, she starred in Come Blow Your Horn, playing Peggy Evans (Jill St. John’s role in the 1963 movie version), then portrayed Candy Starr in One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest from November 1963 until January 1964.
From 1964-66, she was in the Broadway comedies Ready When You Are, C.B.!, directed by Joshua Logan, and The Wayward Stork.
Around this time, she shared an apartment on West 101st Street and Riverside Drive with Harper, then a dancer on Broadway, and three other women; it was Golonka who encouraged Harper to try acting.
Golonka played several characters on a 1965 comedy album, You Don’t Have to Be Jewish, which soared to No. 9 on the Billboard charts. When she couldn’t do the follow-up record, she recommended Harper for the job.
Meanwhile, Golonka was appearing on television on Naked City, Car 54, Where Are You? and The Doctors and in such films as Love With the Proper Stranger (1963) and Arthur Hiller’s Penelope (1966), starring Natalie Wood. (Golonka played a prostitute named Honeysuckle Rose in that one).
She moved to Los Angeles and worked on shows like Get Smart, Barnaby Jones, The Flying Nun, That Girl, Maude, Alice, The Rockford Files, One Day at a Time, Taxi, Murder, She Wrote and The King of Queens.
She also did voice work on Speed Buggy, The New Yogi Bear Show, Capitol Critters and The New Scooby-Doo Movies.
Her film résumé included The Busy Body (1967), Welcome to Hard Times (1967), Airport ’77 (1977), The Last Married Couple in America (1980), My Tutor (1983) and The End of Innocence (1990).
Survivors include her sister, Zorine; nieces Stephanie, Susan, Amy, Debra, Lisa, Karen and Crissy; and nephews David and Michael.
Asked in a 1969 interview if she ever thought about taking a stage name, she replied: “I began to get recognition in the days when we had stars with names like Marlon Brando, Tab Hunter, Rory Calhoun, Rip Torn and Rock Hudson,” she said. “I just thought it would be nice to have an Arlene Golonka in there.”
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