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Biography

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Overview (3)

Date of Birth 5 April 1930Seattle, Washington, USA
Date of Death 26 April 2000Healdsburg, California, USA  (Parkinson's disease)
Birth NameHelen Eileen Brandmeir

Mini Bio (1)

Helen Beardsley was born Helen Eileen Brandmeir, the ninth in a family of ten children in Seattle, Washington on April 5, 1930. She grew up in Seattle where Helen trained to be a nurse at Providence Hospital. At age 19 Helen married Navy man Richard (Dick) Dale North on June 30, 1949.

Helen and Dick lived at Oak Harbor, Washington where they had their first child, Colleen North on June 1, 1950. They moved to Kodiak, Alaska where their children Janette and Nicholas were born on June 15, 1951 and July 16, 1952. Dick and Helen moved back to Oak Harbor where their son Tom was born on October 17, 1953. Next the Navy brought them to Okinawa, Japan where their daughter Jean was born at Uchitomari on December 12, 1955. Their next move brought them to Great Lakes, Michigan where their son Phillip was born on February 7, 1957. Three more moves soon followed to Key West, San Diego and back again to Oak Harbor, Washington where their son Gerald was born on October 14, 1958.

At age 30 Helen became a widow when she was six-and-a-half months pregnant for her eighth child. Dick died in an aircraft accident on June 7, 1960. She then gave birth to Teresa on August 30, 1960.

In early 1961 Helen moved to San Leandro, California where the principal of the parochial school where her children were registered, Sister Mary Eleanor, mentioned her recently widowed brother Francis (Frank) Beardsley, a Navy Warrant Officer. Frank had 10 children of his own. Frank and Helen began corresponding and had their first date on the eve of Mother's Day, May 13, 1961. The whirlwind courtship ended up in marriage less than four months later.

At age 31 Helen North married Frank Beardsley on September 9, 1961 in Carmel, California and became the mother of 18 children. She and her 8 children moved in with Frank and his 10 children. Frank's house was enlarged to 5,800 square feet in size, which included 8 bedrooms, 5 bathrooms and 3 living rooms. The family immediately gained national press attention. The couple soon sold the movie rights to their story to Desilu Studios.

On July 14, 1962 Frank and Helen's first child together, Joseph was born. In the spring of 1963 Helen legally adopted Frank's 10 children and Frank adopted Helen's 8 children in the largest mass adoption in California history. The couple's 20th child, named Helen was born on April 19, 1964.

Frank and Helen appeared on the Tonight Show with Johnny Carson soon after their wedding. The family then appeared in west coast bread commercials. Helen received the National Campfire Girls Mother of the Year award in 1963. In 1965 Helen wrote the book "Who Gets the Drumstick" recounting her story as a Navy wife and mother. In April 1968, the movie "Yours, Mine and Ours" staring Lucille Ball and Henry Fonda which was loosely based on Frank and Helen's story, was released. Helen was also appointed by then California Governor Ronald Reagan to the State's Advisory Commission on the Status of Women.

Helen was known as a very giving and loving person. She was a classy woman with very traditional values. Helen was also a devout Catholic. She is also described by her daughter as a peacemaker and that family was the most important thing to Helen. She was very much loved and admired by all who knew her through out her whole life, especially by her 20 children.

In 1968 Frank retired from the Navy and with Helen they opened a nut and gift shop and Ye Ol' Beardsley Donut Shope, which later expanded into three locations. In 1973 the couple sold the stores and Helen returned to the medical field working at Carmel Community Hospital. The couple then moved to Fresno in 1977 where Helen worked at St Agnes Medical Center as a cardiovascular technician.

Frank and Helen Beardsley retired to the Santa Rosa area in the mid 1980s. Soon after obtaining her certificate in medical transcribing Helen began a long battle with a rare form of Parkinson disease which eventually took her life on April 26, 2000. At the time of her death Helen was the mother of 20 children, she had 44 grandchildren and 2 great-grandchildren.

Helen was buried next to her first husband Dick North at Willamette National Cemetery in Portland, Oregon.

- IMDb Mini Biography By: Daniel Fortier

Spouse (2)

Francis (Frank) Louis Beardsley (9 September 1961 - 26 April 2000) (her death) (2 children)
Richard (Dick) Dale North (30 July 1949 - 7 June 1960) (his death) (8 children)

Trivia (2)

Appeared on To Tell the Truth (1956) shortly after the book was released.
Died 11 years later, to the day, April 26, as Lucille Ball, the actress who portrayed her in the movie Yours, Mine and Ours (1968).

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