Sara Berner Poster


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Overview (3)

Born in Albany, New York, USA
Died in Van Nuys, Los Angeles, California, USA
Birth NameLillian Herdan

Mini Bio (1)

This accomplished voice actress with an ear for accents, first made her mark on Jack Benny's radio program in the dual role of wisecracking, gum-chewing telephone operator Mabel Flapsaddle and Jack's plumber girlfriend Gladys. Brunette Sara Berner's real name was Lillian Herdan and she was born in Albany, New York, in January 1912. Her family moved to Oklahoma where she studied drama for two years at Tulsa University. Before she came to notice with the Major Bowes Amateur Hour on radio to embark on nationwide tours with their all-girl unit, Sara's instinctive talents sometimes got her into trouble -- such as being fired from an earlier job as a salesgirl at a Philadelphia department store for mimicking the customers. Of course, this turned out to be a blessing. Job offers in the entertainment industry abounded in the 1930's and 40's for those who possessed genuine talent, and, above all, versatility. As both a comedienne and a natural dialectician, Sara went on to earn five times the salary she would have made in retail. Her stock in trade were exaggerated ethnic dialects, her gallery of voices including Hillbilly, Yiddish (Mrs. Horowitz in "Life with Luigi"), Italian (Mrs. Mataratza on "The Jimmy Durante Show"), Spanish (Chiquita on the Gene Autry program), Greek, Polish and Armenian (to get the hang of this one, she resorted to telephoning assorted Armenian rug dealers!). By 1950, Sara had her own comedy detective series on network radio -- "Sara's Private Caper" -- as a former police secretary, turned sleuth. Sadly, despite the assemblage of a good supporting cast, the show flopped (then again, this was something even the great Mel Blanc had experienced four years earlier).

Beginning in 1933, Sara worked extensively in Hollywood -- primarily in animation -- though rarely receiving screen credit. She was particularly successful mimicking Katharine Hepburn's voice, which she first did to much acclaim on the "Eddie Cantor Show". This led to a spate of cartoon roles with Walt Disney (Mother Goose Goes Hollywood (1938)); Walter Lantz (Hollywood Bowl (1938)) and Leon Schlesinger at Warner Brothers (Daffy Duck in Hollywood (1938)). Perhaps her 'signature voice' from those years was that of Beaky Buzzard's Italian Mamma, first heard on The Bashful Buzzard (1945). That same year, she also voiced the cartoon mouse Jerry, dancing with Gene Kelly in Anchors Aweigh (1945). According to a 1949 news article -- shortly after the movie was broadcast -- Sara received a parcel with an assortment of cheeses from a Wisconsin admirer. Such can be the fringe benefits of fame.

Her subsequent work in animation encompassed providing the voices for Andy Panda and cartoon penguin Chilly Willy for Walter Lantz's studio. There was also regular work as a small-part supporting player in films and television. Sara repeated her Mabel role on The Jack Benny Program (1950). Other than that, she was destined to round off her career in no-name parts, cameos and walk-ons, most memorably as the dog-owning upstairs neighbour in Alfred Hitchcock's Rear Window (1954). Sara made her final TV appearance in 1967 and died just two years later in Van Nuys, California, aged 57.

- IMDb Mini Biography By: I.S.Mowis

Spouse (1)

Milton Rosner (11 August 1951 - 30 March 1958) (divorced) (1 child)

Trade Mark (1)

Famous For Playing Gladys Zabisco On "The Jack Benny Program"

Trivia (2)

Lived her last years at Jefferson Convalescent Home in Culver City, California.
"Berner" was her mother's maiden name.

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