Missouri-born character actress Alice Ghostley has died. You’d know her face. You’ll probably recognize the voice. Alice Ghostley was born in the little southwest Missouri town of Eve in 19-26. Her father was a telegrapher for the town. The family later moved to Oklahoma where Alice dropped out of college to become an actress.

Many people will recall her stint on "Designing Women," playing Bernice Clifton, a slightly-off-center friend of the girls. But before that, she was Esmerelda, the shy witch who was a maid and babysitter on Bewitched.

She was a Broadway actress first, and won a Tony Award in 1965 as best actress. Ghostley made her Broadway Debut in "New Faces of 1952" and her movie debut in "New Faces of 1954."

Ghostley moved from stage to film, back and forth, throughout her career. In 1957 she was one of the ugly step-sisters in the made-for-television version of Rogers and Hammerstein’s "Cinderella. "

Her best movie was To Kill a Mockingbird, the 1962 movie considered one of the best ever made in Hollywood. She was Aunt Stephanie Crawford.

She also appeared in "The Graduate" and in the movie version of the stage musical "Grease," in which she played Mrs. Murdock, the shop teacher.

Linda Bloodworth-Thomason, the Poplar Bluff Native who created Designing Women, called Ghostley a dear friend who had an "achingly funny, toughing talent." Bloodworth-Thomas called her a "fabulous, loveable, incomparable fruitcake."

Alice Ghostley died afer a long bought with colon cancer and a series of strokes. She was 81.

(The soundbites included in Bob Priddy’s story are from various excerpts on Youtube and from Priddy’s personal audio collection).


Download Bob Priddy’s extended story (4:44 MP3)