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Eve Arden is perhaps best known for her portrayal of Miss Brooks, a witty teacher with eyes only for 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 on the radio in 1948. Interestingly, Shirley Booth was originally intended to be the star with the series name being Our Miss Booth. Eventually, the radio pilot was rewritten, and Arden took the helm with great success.
After several years of radio, the series debuted on television, and all except one of the principal cast members remained – Jeff Chandler.
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. But Bob Rockwell was wonderful.”
Richard Crenna almost turned down the opportunity to reprise Walter Denton on television, but Arden convinced him to stay.
According to Crenna, Eve had Brooks’ best qualities, especially her humor. She once politely asked a crewman not to swear with teenagers on the set.
“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 you spend with your own family... We loved each other. We just had the best time,” Crenna said.
It wasn’t just the cast that liked Arden. Teachers across the United States wrote in to express their support for their favorite teacher, and Eve 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, umpteen years ago – 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.