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Gloria Henry played family matriarch Alice Mitchell in Dennis the Menace from 1959 to 1963

By Eric Todisco
April 05, 2021 09:40 AM
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gloria Henry
Gloria Henry
| Credit: CBS via Getty

Gloria Henry, best known for her role as family matriarch Alice Mitchell in the hit '50s and '60s sitcom Dennis the Menace, has died. She was 98.

Henry's daughter, Erin Ellwood, confirmed to The Hollywood Reporter and Variety that her actress mom died on Saturday, just one day after Henry's birthday. She also confirmed the news in a heartfelt Instagram post on Easter Sunday.

"She's flying now, free of her body," Ellwood wrote alongside a photo of Henry standing in front of a mural featuring outspread angel wings in Los Angeles. "She left on a countdown 4 3 2 1 @ 3:40pm. She was such an incredible woman in so many ways. This last year with her has been beautiful and heartbreaking."

"Thank you all for following me and supporting me on this journey - this beautiful land mine," she added. "Goodbye Momma, I love your guts forever ❤️."

Ellwood shared a second Instagram post in honor of her mother on Monday and asked her followers to consider donating towards an animal advocacy group in honor of Henry. "I would like to ask a favor of you all … My mother was a huge animal advocate, she worked as a docent at the LA zoo for over two decades, as well as MPTF- the organization that Doris Day funded," she wrote. "If you feel so moved to do so, please donate to the animal advocacy group of your choice in my mother's name - nothing would make her happier! Thank you 💥 #gloriahenry."

gloria Henry
Gloria Henry in Dennis the Menace
| Credit: CBS via Getty

Born in New Orleans on April 2, 1923, Henry began her acting career with Columbia Studios in 1946, landing the lead female role in the 1947 horse racing film Sport of Kings. She went on to appear in films like Rancho Notorious, Triple Threat and Miss Grant Takes Richmond, which she starred in opposite Lucille Ball.

In 1959, Henry began playing Alice Mitchell, the mom of Jay North's Dennis Mitchell, in the CBS sitcom Dennis the Menace. The series, which was based on Hank Ketcham's comic, also starred Herbert Anderson, Joseph Kearns, Jeannie Russell, Gale Gordon, Sylvia Field, and Sara Seegar.

"Many of the fans say, 'Oh, I always wished you were my mom' and 'My mom was jealous of you, because I wanted you for a mom,'" Henry said of her beloved character in a 2011 interview. "Which is pretty funny, because I don't think my own children felt that way."

The show ended in 1963 after four seasons, but reruns continued to air on NBC, as well as Nickelodeon and TV Land.

gloria Henry
Gloria Henry
| Credit: CBS via Getty

After a years-long break from Hollywood following Dennis the Menace, Henry returned to television in the 1980s with roles in The Brady Brides, Falcon Crest and Dallas. In the nineties, she appeared in TV series including Hunter and Doogie Howser, M.D.

Her final acting appearance was in a 2012 episode of Parks and Recreation.

Henry is survived by her three children, daughter Erin and sons Jeffrey and Adam, whom she shared with her late ex-husband Craig Ellwood. She and Craig, a Los Angeles architect, were married from 1949 to 1977. He died in 1992.