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Hillary Brooke Poster

Biography

Jump to: Overview (4) | Mini Bio (1) | Spouse (3) | Trivia (10)

Overview (4)

Born in Astoria, New York, USA
Died in Bonsall, California, USA  (blood clot in lung)
Birth NameBeatrice Sofia Mathilda Peterson
Height 5' 6" (1.68 m)

Mini Bio (1)

Hillary Brooke's image as the epitome of glacial, regal, upper-class British gentility is muted somewhat by the fact that she was born Beatrice Peterson to a middle-class American family in Long Island, NY (she was the sister of Arthur Peterson, best-known as the demented "Major" in the soap-opera satire Soap (1977)). Always a beauty, she had a successful career as a photographer's model before breaking into show business. Her "British" accent came about when she realized that she was just one of innumerable tall, good-looking blondes vying for roles, and needed something to make her stand out among them. She came up with affecting a British accent and it worked; she began to get more and more roles that called for a "British" blonde, so she kept the accent. Her film debut was in New Faces of 1937 (1937), in which--billed as "Beatrice Schute"--she played a showgirl. She began working steadily in films in the early 1940s, and appeared in such major productions as The Philadelphia Story (1940), Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde (1941), Wake Island (1942), Jane Eyre (1943) and The Enchanted Cottage (1945), in addition to the usual run of "B" westerns and thrillers in which many up-and-coming young actresses had to put in time. In the early 1950s she began appearing on television, and her best known work was as the object of comic Lou Costello's affections in the classic The Abbott and Costello Show (1952), in which she disproved the old show-business axiom that beautiful women can't do comedy. She had no compunction about taking a pie in the face, a vase on the head, a pratfall or tussling with Bingo the chimp, and more than held her own with such veteran scene-stealers as Abbott, Costello and Sid Fields. One somewhat quirky characteristic her character--also named Hillary Brooke--had was that while she usually addressed the male characters on the show as "Mr." (as in "Mr." Fields or "Mr." Bacciagalupe), even Bud Abbott (although she on rare occasions called him "Bud"), she always addressed Costello affectionately as "Louis", even though everyone else called him "Costello".

She also had a similar role as the girlfriend of Vern Albright (Charles Farrell) in My Little Margie (1952) and alternated between television and film roles in the 1950s (she worked once again with Abbott and Costello in their second color film, Abbott and Costello Meet Captain Kidd (1952), in which she played a pirate chief), and is also fondly remembered for her role as little David MacLean's mother who is taken over by the Martians in the sci-fi classic Invaders from Mars (1953). She played Doris Day's best friend in The Man Who Knew Too Much (1956), and the next year had her final film role in Spoilers of the Forest (1957), after which she turned exclusively to television. She retired from the film industry in 1960, after marrying film executive Raymond A. Klune, and died in Bonsall, CA, in 1999, only a few months before she would have turned 85.

- IMDb Mini Biography By: frankfob2@yahoo.com

Spouse (3)

Raymond A. Klune (12 March 1960 - 24 September 1988) (his death)
Jack Voglin (17 December 1941 - 21 July 1948) (divorced)
Allen Schute (27 November 1936 - 3 October 1940) (divorced)

Trivia (10)

Prior to her acting career, she worked as a photographer's model.
Although she spoke with an English accent, she was not British; she was actually from Astoria, New York. She said that she cultivated that accent at the beginning of her career in order to set her apart from all the other tall blondes she would be competing with for roles. The tactic worked so well that producers who hired "the blonde with the British accent" expected to hear a blonde with a British accent on the screen, so she was forced to use the accent whenever she worked, and wound up using it all the time, even off screen.
Producers tended to think of her as too intelligent and self-possessed to be sexy, so she never got the lead and seldom got the man. However, she displayed a real flair for comedy and appeared with Bob Hope (Monsieur Beaucaire (1946)) and Red Skelton (The Fuller Brush Man (1948)) and, of course, was a regular as Lou Costello's semi-girlfriend on The Abbott and Costello Show (1952). Some other notable pictures in which she was cast include The Philadelphia Story (1940), Lady in the Dark (1944), Jane Eyre (1943), Ministry of Fear (1944), The Enchanted Cottage (1945) and The Man Who Knew Too Much (1956).
She is best remembered for her incongruous role as Lou Costello's girlfriend (of sorts) on The Abbott and Costello Show (1952) as well as Vernon Albright (Charles Farrell)'s girlfriend on My Little Margie (1952). Both shows are still seen today in syndication and on home video. With her regal British accent--even though she was not British--and upper-class, ladylike demeanor, Brooke was treated as a goddess by Costello and Bud Abbott on the show and was seldom subject to the usual slapstick other actresses on the show were. Even off screen, she was treated the same way by the team. They were notorious for their love of practical jokes, which they often played on cast and crew (and which were often, as could be expected from veteran burlesque comics like them, somewhat risqué). However, Brooke was never on the receiving end of any of their pranks even though, as she once noted in an interview, she would love to have been.
In The Man Who Knew Too Much (1956), she played the character Jan Peterson, a friend of Doris Day's character. Peterson was Brooke's real birth name.
Attended and graduated from Columbia University in New York City.
She was appearing in television commercials long before it was fashionable (and profitable) for movie stars to do, namely promoting the Foodarama Refrigerator by Kelvinator in the mid-1950s. During this time, Cinerama was being made famous in movie theaters and everything from laundramats to trailer parks became "launderama" and trailerama" in hitching their wagon to the Cinerama star.
Passed away on May 25, 1999, less than four months from what would have been her 85th birthday on September 8.
She was awarded a Star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame at 6311 Hollywood Boulevard in Hollywood, California on February 8, 1960.
Sister of Arthur Peterson.

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