Film and television comedian Shirley Mitchell has died of heart failure on November 11 at the age of 94. The Hollywood Reporter was notified of Mitchell’s death by her sister-in-law, Oscar nominee (for 1950’s Sunset Boulevard) Nancy Olsen, who informed The Hollywood Reporter.
Mitchell, despite appearing in 12 films and 70 television series, many on the small screen in recurring roles, is probably best remembered for the handful of I Love Lucy episodes on which she played Lucy Ricardo’s friend Marion Strong. She is the last surviving “adult” cast member of the classic TV show. (Keith Thibodeaux, who, billed as Richard Keith, played Little Ricky during the 1956-57 final season, is 62 years old.)
Mitchell played Marion Strong for three episodes in the 1953-54 season of I Love Lucy, her most memorable appearance being in the episode that aired November 9, 1953, “Lucy Tells the Truth.” Ricky (Desi Arnaz), Ethel (Vivian Vance) and Fred (William Frawley) bet Lucy (Lucille Ball) $100 that she can’t go 24 hours without telling the truth. Lucy takes advantage of the opportunity during her weekly bridge game with Ethel, Marion and Carolyn Appleby (Doris Singleton) by telling the girls exactly what she thinks of them and their behavior.
After Lucy is goaded by Ethel and Carolyn into saying how she really feels about Marion’s over-the-top hat, Marion thinks she’s just kidding and starts cackling, a memorable laugh created by Mitchell. Lucy shuts her up by cracking, “Marion, stop cackling. I’ve been waiting 10 years for you to lay that egg!” Mitchell is at right in the picture above, with Vance.
Mitchell was the widow of Jay Livingston, a triple Oscar-winning composer (for “Que Sera, Sera,” “Mona Lisa” and “Buttons and Bows”).
With Mitchell’s passing, the entire principal and supporting cast of I Love Lucy belong to the ages. Rest in peace, funny lady.