Actress Arlene Golonka, who is fondly remembered as bubbly baker shop employee Millie Swanson on both The Andy Griffith Show and spin-off Mayberry R.F.D., passed away yesterday. She was 85.
Born in Chicago on January 23, 1936, Arlene Golonka began her career on stage in The Night Circus opposite Ben Gazzara in 1958. Following stage roles in productions like Take Me Along (opposite Jackie Gleason), Come Blow Your Horn, and One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest (opposite Kirk D0uglas), Golonka moved to Los Angeles and began to pepper her resume with guest appearances on TV series like Naked City, Car 54, Where Are You?, The Flying Nun, The Big Valley, That Girl and Get Smart. After a handful of appearances on The Andy Griffith Show, Golonka was upgraded to series regular on spin-off Mayberry, R.F.D. as the love interest of Ken Berry’s Sam Jones, which aired from 1968 to 1971.
Following Mayberry R.F.D., and through 2005, Golonka traveled the TV series guest circuit with appearances on shows that included The Rookies, The F.B.I., M*A*S*H, All in the Family, The Mary Tyler Moore Show (opposite former roommate Valerie Harper), Barnaby Jones, Maude, Matlock, In the Heat of the Night and The King of Queens. She was also a regular on the second season of comedy Joe & Valerie in 1979, and provided the voice of Debbie on 1973 animated series Speed Buggy (among several other cartoons).
Golonka’s film roles included Harvey Middleman (1965), Penelope (1966), The Busy Body (1967), Welcome to Hard Times (1967), Hang ‘Em High (1968), Airport ‘77, The In-Laws (1979), Love at First Bite (1980), The Last Married Couple in America (1980), The Age of Innocence (1990), and A Family Affair.
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Golonka became an acting coach in the latter part of her career, coaching stars like Halle Berry.