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Natalie Schafer ( – ) was an Americamarker actress.

Early life and career

Born to a Jewish family in Red Bank, New Jerseymarker, Schafer began her career as an actress on Broadwaymarker before moving to Los Angelesmarker in 1941 to work in films. She played several supporting roles during the 1940s (such as the wife of a German officer in the 1942 film Reunion in France) and 1950s, and also appeared most notably in The Snake Pit (1948) and Anastasia (1956) while returning to New York Citymarker to live and work between film roles.

Schafer appeared on Broadway in 17 plays between 1928 and 1959, almost always playing supporting roles. Most of her Broadway appearances were in short-run plays, with the exceptions of Lady in the Dark (1941–42), The Doughgirls (1942–44), and Romanoff and Juliet (1957–58). She also appeared in stock and regional productions of plays.

Schafer is best known for the television series Gilligan's Island (1964–67), playing the role of the millionaire's wife, "Lovey Howell." She reprised her role in the made-for-TV, Gilligan's Island, movies that were made after the show's demise, along with the animated spinoff, Gilligan's Planet, in 1982. Originally written as a humorless grande dame, Schafer worked with the writers to create a character not unlike the scatterbrain roles played in 1930s films by Mary Boland and Billie Burke. Schafer specifically suggested that the writers read the George S. Kaufman-Marc Connelly play Dulcy for its dizzy title character.

She continued acting until her late-80s and was a guest star on many TV series, including I Love Lucy in the 1950s. In the 1970s, Schafer joined the cast of the CBS soap opera Search for Tomorrow. Her most notable film appearance in later life was in The Day of the Locust (1975).

Personal life

Schafer was married to actor Louis Calhern from 1934 to 1942, and they had no children. Long after their divorce, the two appeared together in Forever, Darling (1956). During much of the 1940s and 1950s she was romantically linked to author and playwright George S. Kaufman.

Schafer was legendarily discreet about her age, never even telling Calhern. 1912 was generally given as her birth year for many years, which few believed, yet her actual year of birth (which was not discerned until after her death) of 1900 shocked even her intimate friends.

Her investments, particularly in real estate, made her a multi-millionaire. Differing sources state that most of this fortune was bequeathed to either her Gilligan's Island co-star, Dawn Wells, or to care for her dogs. Wells has not commented. The Los Angeles Times reported that Schafer bequeathed 2 million dollars to the Motion Picture and Television Hospital; the money was used to renovate the Hospital's outpatient wing, which was renamed the "Natalie Schafer Wing".


Natalie Schafer died of cancer at home in Los Angeles, Californiamarker, at the age of 90. She was cremated. Her ashes were scattered into the Pacific Oceanmarker.

External links


  1. "Hospital Marks Opening of Wing" by Frank Manning, The Los Angeles Times, December 14, 1994.

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