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Mary Jane Croft (February 15, 1916 – August 24, 1999) was an Americanmarker actress best known for her role as Mary Jane Lewis on The Lucy Show and Here's Lucy.

Radio

Born in Muncie, Indianamarker, Croft worked extensively as an actress in radio, appearing on such programs as The Adventures of Sam Spade, Suspense, The Beulah Show, The Bill Goodwin Show, Blondie, Broadway Is My Beat, Cathy and Elliott Lewis on Stage, Crime Classics, Four-Star Playhouse, Honest Harold, Joan Davis Time, The Mel Blanc Show, One Man's Family, Our Miss Brooks, Romance, Sears Radio Theater, The Story of Sandra Martin and Twelve Players. She also appeared in frequent guest star roles on Lucille Ball's My Favorite Husband, the beginning of their later professional and personal relationship.

Television

Prior to her work with Lucille Ball, she had been a frequent guest star on other television programs, including Howard Duff's adventure/drama series Dante in the 1960 episode "The Misfortune Cookie". She was a regular on at least two other series, as ebullient neighbor Clara Randolph on The Adventures of Ozzie and Harriet (ABC) and on Our Miss Brooks (CBS), in which she reprised her radio role as Miss Daisy Enright, the title character's rival. She provided the voice for Cleo the basset hound in Jackie Cooper's NBC series The People’s Choice (1955-58).

Late in the weekly run of the original I Love Lucy series, the major characters moved to Connecticutmarker. There Lucy Ricardo befriended a new neighbor, Betty Ramsey, portrayed by Croft. She was very socially conscious and tended to get Lucy involved in a different sort of series of adventures than did Vivian Vance (as Ethel Mertz). She had also guest starred as a wealthy schoolmate of Lucy's, Cynthia Harcourt, in "Lucy is Envious," then as Evelyn Bigsby, the airline passenger seated next to Lucy in "Return Home from Europe," the episode in which Lucy disguises a hunk of cheese as a baby.

After Vance left The Lucy Show after the 1964-1965 season, Croft became Lucy's new sidekick, Mary Jane Lewis. Croft had previously had a recurring role as Audrey Simmons during the shows early seasons set in Danfield, New York. Mary Jane Lewis was Croft's legal name at the time, as she was then married to actor-producer Elliott Lewis (who originally produced The Lucy Show during its first two seasons) but continued to use her maiden name professionally. Her only son, by a prior marriage, was killed in the Vietnam War during the period that she was co-starring with Ball.

The Lewis character was maintained when The Lucy Show was transformed into Ball's third sitcom, Here's Lucy. The character remained until the cancellation of Here's Lucy in 1974.

Later years and death

Croft continued to act in television for several years after the end of Here's Lucy, even reuniting with Ball in 1977 in the special, Lucy Calls the President. She died of natural causes in Century City, Californiamarker.

Filmography

Film
Year Film Role Notes
1943 In Old Oklahoma Dance-hall girl Uncredited
1958 Kathy O' Harriet Burton/Aunt Harriet
Television
Year Title Role Notes
1952 I Married Joan Helen Unknown episodes
1953-1955 Our Miss Brooks Miss Daisy Enright 4 episodes
1957 I Love Lucy Betty Ramsey 6 episodes
1955-1958 The People's Choice Cleo the Basset Hound (voice) all episodes
1956 Dragnet 2 episodes
1956-1966 The Adventures of Ozzie & Harriet Clara Randolph 28 episodes
1958 The Court of Last Resort Mrs. Craig 1 episode
1960 Dante Alma Jenks 1 episode
1962-1968 The Lucy Show Audrey Simmons (1962-'65)/Mary Jane Lewis (1965-'68) 26 episodes
1966 Vacation Playhouse Helen 1 episode
The Two of Us Helen Television pilot
1969 The Mothers-in-Law Carol Yates 1 episode
1969-1974 Here's Lucy Mary Jane Lewis
1977 Lucy Calls the President Midge Bowser Television special


References

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