Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Bethel Leslie

Had she stayed on the Broadway stage, Bethel Leslie might have been more well known, as she was a truly gifted actor that Hollywood just didn't know what to do with. She appeared in some movies at the beginning and end of her career, but it was the early days of television where she really was able to flex her acting muscles.

Without ever having a signature role, this wonderful talent appeared and thrived regularly on many of the live television anthology dramas of the 1950's like The Philco-Goodyear Television Playhouse, The Prudential Family Playhouse, Kraft Theatre, Broadway Television Theatre, Pepsi Cola Playhouse, Philip Morris Playhouse, Studio One and Playhouse 90, just to name a few.

As television experimented with different formats, the anthology programs would eventually fade away as audiences found more interest in weekly characters than they did with completely different dramas each week. This turned Bethel Leslie into a television guest star where she appeared the next three decades in such shows as Perry Mason, Have Gun Will Travel, Gunsmoke, Mannix, Kung Fu and The White Shadow.

Bethel Leslie was extremely talented and had she been born thirty years later she just might have had the career that Meryl Streep now owns. Fortunately, the record books will never forget her as she did win an Emmy for her work on The Richard Boone Show, which was a critical hit, but failed with audiences in its attempt to bring back the anthology format.

Sadly, this wonderful talent is largely forgotten today, but should one ever stumble across some of the old shows from the Golden Age of Television, it will become very clear why Bethel Leslie is Not Very Famous...but should be.


  1. She was somewhere between common looking and pretty. She always had a hard edge about her but as stated was an axcellent actress. On TV she usually played down trodden or mentally abused housewives who was looking for a way out of her predicament.

    1. Thanks, Tom. Your knowledge of obscure actors and movies always amazes me. Readers, you should check out Tom's blogs, Boot Hill and Westerns...All'taliana! to read about more "Not Very Famous" actors.

  2. Thanks Mike, like you I admire the work so many of these character actors gave to us in films and TV series over the years and seldom received recognition from the press or the film industry. Trying to find information on them is also very difficult because they acted for a living and seldom appeared in newspaper articles or were little more than a mention in pressbooks and film books. Without them the lead actors and stars would not have shined so brightly and often their performances made each movie they appeared in that much better. Keep up the goog work as I enjoy each and every post you make.

  3. Nice looking. Good actress. It was the (bad) luck of the draw that Miss Leslie didn't become a bigger name in films and on television. I like her work very much, and she certainly had the looks.

    Even in middle age, why Michael Learned and not Bethel Leslie? For The Waltons, I mean. Or maybe Miss L didn't want to be a regular on a prime time TV series. Bethel Leslie is actually a pretty good name for an actress.

    She did well but didn't make it to the top.