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Eve Arden is perhaps best known for portraying Miss Brooks, a witty teacher with a crush on her colleague, Mr. Boyton, and a knack for driving Principal Conklin up the wall.
Before it became a hit series and a motion picture, Our Miss Brooks began as a radio program in 1948. Originally, it was going to be titled Our Miss Booth with Shirley Booth as the star. However, the pilot was rewritten, and Arden took the helm with great success.
After several years on the radio, the series moved to television, and all of the principal cast members remained, except Jeff Chandler, who played Mr. Boyton.
Arden said, “He was too macho for Mr. Boyton. We had a Christmas show in which he got to kiss Miss Brooks, and the audience just went to pieces because he gave it everything, which was entirely wrong for the character."
Robert Rockwell took over the role, and Arden described working with him as "wonderful."
The show almost lost another cast member too. Richard Crenna was hesitant to reprise his role as the nerdy Walter Denton on television, but Arden convinced him to stay. He never regretted that decision.
He said, “Signing on for a television series is really like signing on submarine duty because you’re locked into a building with people that you spend more time with than your own family. We loved each other. We just had the best time."
According to Crenna, Eve had Brooks’ best qualities, especially her humor. She once politely asked a crewman not to swear since there were teenagers on the set.
It wasn’t just the cast that liked her. Teachers across the United States wrote in to express their support for their favorite teacher, and Arden even got offered real teaching positions. While she didn’t accept any, she did attend some PTA meetings.
“I recall with affection those who taught me. I recall my third-grade teacher, Miss Ruth Waterman. She had dimples, big brown eyes, and was always smiling. I try to give Miss Brooks that same smiling quality,” Arden said.