'A Caricature' -
she sadly admits
The not-so-humorous story of a comic actress
by Leslie Raddatz
It would certainly be ungallant to suggest that Sandra Gould, who plays the nosy neighbor, Gladys Kravitz, in ABC's Bewitched, is really not a redhead. But, real or synthetic, she has at least one characteristic of the genre --a hot temper.
This was dramatically displayed some years ago when, after five seasons as Miss Duffy in the old "Duffy's Tavern" radio program, Miss Gould was told that she would not receive the raise in salary she had been promised.
The late Ed Gardner, star of the show, took her to lunch at the Brown Derby to break the news. When she told him she would quit if the raise were not forthcoming, he said, "Don't be hasty, Sandy--remember, you have a sick husband." Sandra picked up a plate of spaghetti, pushed it in Gardner's face, then stood up, knocked over the table and stalked out of the restaurant.
Sandra's devotion to her late husband, broadcasting executive Larry Berns, became almost legendary in Hollywood during the seven years of his illness, during which he was in and out of the hospital 48 times.
After the "Duffy's Tavern" imbroglio, She worked constantly on the top radio programs of the day, usually as the Brooklyn-accented comedienne, to take care of him and their small son,Mike. In all, she did more than 1000 radio shows. She even turned to writing for comedy programs after a director criticized her for wanting to change a line in a joke. "You're not paid for your opinion of the jokes." he said. "You're paid to read the lines, wash up and get the hell out." When the joke as written did not get a laugh, Sandra decided to try writing jokes herself. She not only did this with considerable success but also wrote a book, "Always Say Maybe," an amusing, tongue-in-cheek manual on how to get a man.
This emphasis upon comedy contrasts with the long agony of her husband's illness and death, as well as with Sandra's own original theatrical aspirations. Today, sadly, she says, "I started out to be an actress and ended up as a caricature." She started out early. Born in Brooklyn'!nto a non-theatrical family, she was walking across the Brooklyn Bridge by the time she was 8, to catch a subway and audition for parts in New York plays. She got her first Broadway role when she was 11 and was in 10 other Broadway productions in the next five years.
When she was 16, she went into radio in New York and in 1950 won a Peabody Award for the best dramatic performance by an actress. Shirley Booth, the original Miss·Duffy, suggested that Sandra replace her in that role, and that turned Sandra from drama to comedy--not only in radio, but continuing into television with I Love Lucy, The Danny Thomas Show, I Dream ot Jeannie and many more before Bewitched. However, she still likes to appear in dramas in little theaters around Los Angeles. After one such play, Jimmy Durante, with whom she had worked many times, came backstage and said, "Geeze, kid, didn't know you had talent." Her talent, of course, is not limited to acting. As noted, she is also a writer and is now completing, with Lucy MacDougall, a book telling how to cook for various types of men, inspired by a trip to Paris during which she attended Le Cordon Bleu cooking school. After the success of her first book, she enrolled in a creative writing class at UCLA, When her publisher heard about it, however, he told her to drop out immediately: "Don't study," he said. "You're the Grandma Moses of writing."
She may not be the Grandma Moses of art, but she has sold more than 200 of her paintings, others of which decorate the walls of her comfortable San Fernando Valley home. Sometimes her avocations get mixed up. While preparing a ragout one evening, she became intrigued,by the coloring of an onion, forgot about the stew entirely and made a painting of the onion.The picture now hangs in the kitchen.
Sandra moved into the house two years ago when she married its owner, director Hollingsworth Morse. An old friend, Morse asked her to stay there first while he was in India directing the short-lived Maya series. When he returned, Sandra moved into an apartment so small that she had to leave many of her clothes in Morse's home. After she had come back a few times to pick up various items, Morse said, "Why don't we get married, and you can live with your clothes." They were wed the next weekend. They share the house with a large cat, which unfortunately is the same color as the bedspread and occasionally gets sat upon.
Sandra has now completed her fourth season as Gladys Kravitz in Bewitched. When offered the role after the death of its creator, Alice Pearce, she was still mournilig her late husband and since she and Miss Pearce had been good friends, she said, "I couldn't do it." Even after she was prevailed upon to take the part, she would burst into tears whenever the director absentmindedly called her "Alice" and would run to her dressing room. But now the sad days seem behind her. Son Mike, 25 and "full of hair," is in the recording business, and Sandra is happy in her new home. There, somehow, the flowers around the pool bloom out of season. Last Christmas, when the gardener said, "Daisies don't bloom in December," Sandra said, "I told them to."
You half believe her when she says it, for Sandra GoulcCsentimental, vivacious, talkative and funny--is nothing if not a determined person, and the producers of Bewitched had better give her a raise when she starts her fifth season. Or, at least, not take her to the Brown Derby for lunch to tall her they won't.
*TV Guide July 11, 1970
Back to Vic's Bewitched Page