Verna Felton (July 20, 1890 – December 14, 1966) was an American character actress who was best known for providing many female voices in numerous Walt Disney Pictures animated films, as well as voicing Fred Flintstone's mother-in-law Pearl Slaghoople for Hanna-Barbera. Her film appearances during the 1940s included If I Had My Way (1940), Girls of the Big House (1945) and The Fuller Brush Man (1948).
During the early 1950s, Felton was in much demand as a movie character actress, with roles in Buccaneer's Girl (1950) Belles on Their Toes(1952) Don't Bother to Knock (1952) and her memorable supporting role of Mrs. Potts in the film of William Inge's Picnic (1955). She was also known for her husky voice and no-nonsense attitude. She was born in Salinas, California.
Radio and television
Photo of 1948 Raleigh Cigarettes Program
cast: Standing: Pat McGeehan,
The Four Knights,
(orchestra leader). Seated: Verna Felton ("Grandma" to Skelton's "Junior" character), Rod O'Connor (announcer),
("Mother" to Skelton's 'Junior' character). Front:
She also worked extensively in radio, notably playing the Mean Widdle Kid's grandmother on Red Skelton's radio series and Dennis Day's mother on The Jack Benny Program. In addition, she performed on radio as a regular on The Abbott and Costello Show. Felton was married to radio actor Lee Millar (1888–1941), who also did animation voices (notably for Disney's Pluto, and their son, Lee Carson Millar, Jr. (1924–1980), appeared as an actor on a variety of television series between 1952 and 1967. Felton appeared too in a recurring role as the mother of Ruth Farley, a young woman played by Gloria Winters in the 1953-1955 ABC sitcom with a variety show theme, Where's Raymond?, renamed The Ray Bolger Show. The series starred Ray Bolger as Raymond Wallace, a song-and-dance man who was repeatedly barely on time for his performances. Winters was also known for her role as the well-mannered niece, Penny King, on the Sky King aviation adventure series.
Though some sitcom aficionados might assume that her guest appearances on I Love Lucy led to a regular supporting role as Hilda Crocker on the CBS sitcom December Bride, Felton had played that same character on the radio version two years prior to the television production. December Bride also starred Spring Byington, Dean Miller, Frances Rafferty, and Harry Morgan. Felton continued her Hilda Crocker role on the December Bride spin-off, Pete and Gladys, with Harry Morgan and Cara Williams.
She was the original voice of Pearl Slaghoople (Wilma Flintstone's mother), voicing the character as a semi-regular on The Flintstones from 1960 to 1964.
In 1963, in the series finale of CBS's Dennis the Menace sitcom, Felton played character John Wilson's aunt in the episode entitled "Aunt Emma Visits the Wilsons". In the story line, Mr. Wilson (Gale Gordon) tries to convince Aunt Emma to leave her estate to him and his wife, Eloise (Sara Seegar). Wilson then becomes suspicious when Emma begins spending time with series protagonist Dennis Mitchell (Jay North).
Disney and MGM
Felton was a popular actress at the Walt Disney Studios and MGM Studios, lending her voice to several animated features, including:
- Dumbo (1941) as the Elephant Matriarch / Mrs. Jumbo, Dumbo's Mother
- Cinderella (1950) as the Fairy Godmother
- Alice in Wonderland (1951) as the Queen of Hearts
- Lady and the Tramp (1955) as Aunt Sarah
- Sleeping Beauty (1959) as Flora
- Goliath II (1960) as Eloise
- The Jungle Book (1967) as Winifred the Elephant
Felton died of a stroke on the evening of December 14, 1966. She enjoyed a film career stretching nearly fifty years, and is interred at Grand View Memorial Park in Glendale, California.