The talented actor, Arlene Golonka, behind the beloved character Millie Hutchins on The Andy Griffith Show, who then encored that role as Millie Swanson and Summers on Mayberry R.F.D., passed away on Monday, May 31. She was 85.
Literary agent and friend Cary Kozlov shared the news on Twitter, alongside a photo of himself and Golonka, calling her a "beautiful and kind human being."
— Cary Kozlov (@ckscriberep) May 31, 2021
Born in 1936 in Chicago, Golonka began acting in her early teens, eventually joining a summer stock theatre company, then studying at the Goodman Theatre in Chicago before moving to New York City and studying under theater greats Lee Strasberg, Sanford Meisner, and Uta Hagen. While she's best known for her role as Millie on The Andy Griffith Show and its sequel Mayberry R.F.D., Golonka had a television career that spanned from the late 1950s until 2005.
Golonka made appearances in series and TV movies running the gamut from M*A*S*H and The Big Valley to Joe & Valerie and Gimme a Break!, per her IMDb page. Before launching her television career in Los Angeles, she also had a successful run on Broadway in New York City, most notably appearing in One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest starring Kirk Douglas in 1963 and 1964. If you're a fan of animated series, you'd also recognize Golonka's voice in 1973 TV series The New Scooby-Doo Movies where she played the role of Debbie and additional voices and 1977 TV series Scooby's Laff-A-Lympics, where she also voiced the part of Debbie.
Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images
As Southerners, we'll definitely be spending some time in the fictional town of Mayberry, North Carolina as we re-watch some of our favorite episodes and celebrate the life and work of this wonderful actor. During this difficult time for Golonka's family and friends, we're keeping her in our thoughts, and grateful to have her legacy live on through our television screens.