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Patsy Garrett, a character actress best known as the spry “chow-chow-chow” lady on the popular Purina Cat Chow commercials of the 1970s, has died. She was 93.
Garrett, who played the mayor’s wife opposite Elvis Presley in the 1969 film The Trouble With Girls (1969), died Jan. 8 after a brief illness in Indio, Calif., family friend Richard Sackley announced.
In the 1970s, Garrett portrayed nosy neighbor Florence Fowler on Nanny and the Professor and school secretary Miss Hogarth on Room 222, another ABC series. She was also housekeeper Mary Gruber in the Benji dog movies.
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Garrett, however, is famous for her recurring role as the lady in Purina Cat Chow commercials. A postproduction and editing trick that involved playing the film forward and backward had the actress dancing the “chow-chow-chow” with her cats in a parody of the cha-cha-cha.
Garrett was born May 4, 1921, in Atlantic City, N.J., the daughter of vaudevillians who had an act called Mason & Gwynne. Raised in Richmond, Va., she began her career as a radio performer at age 7.
She spent seven years as a singer, comedian and original member of Fred Waring and his Pennsylvanians, appearing on Fred Waring‘s Pleasure Time radio show in the 1940s.
Garrett provided cartoon voiceovers for such Hanna-Barbera projects as The Banana Splits Adventure Hour and appeared on such shows as My Three Sons, Columbo, Family, Kojak, Maude, Medical Center, The Waltons and Sanford.
She also had small roles in the movies The Parallax View (1974) and Mississippi Masala (1991).
In 2004, she was presented the (Palm Springs) Desert Theater League Lifetime Achievement Award.
Survivors include son Jeff, daughter Kathy, stepson Nicholas and grandchildren Chrissy, Peter, Andrea, Alexis, Nicholas, Jocelyn and Alicia. Her late husband was composer Nick Alexander.
In lieu of flowers, the family requests that donations be sent to Children’s Playtime Productions.
Watch Garrett in a Purina Cat Chow commercial below.
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