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Actress Eve Arden dies

By DAVID KELLEY

LOS ANGELES -- Actress Eve Arden, the wisecracking and thoroughly delightful English school teacher of television's 'Our Miss Brooks,' died Monday of heart failure at the age of 82.

Arden, famous for her quick ripostes, died at her Doheny Estates home at 2:30 a.m. with one of her daughters, Liza West, at her bedside, Glenn Rose, her personal manager said.

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'Her health had been deteriorating for the past year,' Rose said of Arden, adding that the actress had been in declining health since the death of her husband, actor Brooks West, in 1985.

The tall, blonde comedienne had a distinguished career in movies and on the stage, but she was best known for her years as Miss Brooks, including four on radio and four in the early years of television.

Arden began the series in 1947 and made the switch to television in 1952. She won an Emmy in 1953 for best female personality.

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Arden's character earned her a life-long image as a schoolmarm and wisecrack artist, with her put-downs delivered in an expressionless twang. Countless motion pictures and stage appearances and two other television series failed to rid her of the Connie Brooks image.

'I'm not fighting it anymore,' she once said. 'I can't shake the image. Now I'm accustomed to being Miss Brooks.'

Arden was born in Mill Valley, Calif., and passed up a planned college education to take an acting job at the Alcazar Theatre in San Francisco.

She then joined the Pasadena Playhouse and was promptly noticed by Ziegfeld Follies producers. She became a Ziegfeld girl in 1936 and was a leading Broadway attraction with the company within two years.

She returned to the West Coast when her mother died and began her motion picture career with an appearance in 'Stage Door' in 1937, which provided her with her big break.

More than 70 motion pictures followed, including 'My Reputation' with Barbara Stanwyck, 'Mildred Pierce' with Joan Crawford, 'Panamericana' with Robert Benchley and 'Earl Carroll Vanities' with Dennis O'Keefe.

She was nominated for an Academy Award as best supporting actress for 'Mildred Pierce.'

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Arden built up a screen reputation as the quick-witted 'hover girl' who was always around when the female lead needed comforting and advice.

'Do I ever get any comforting?' she once complained of her image. 'Do I ever have a rough day? I'm tired of being 'Miss Vinegar of the Year.''

Whatever her feelings about her movie personality, it made her a natural for the 'Miss Brooks' role. Her two favorite targets on the show were her principal, Osgood Conklin, and the handsome biology professor, Mr. Boynton.

Two less-successful series followed -- 'The Eve Arden Show' and 'The Mothers-In-Law.' She returned to movie and stage work, appearing in the plays 'Butterflies Are Free' in Los Angeles and in 'Hello Dolly' in Chicago, both in lead roles.

Her 1985 autobiography was titled 'Three Phases of Eve.'

Miss Arden was married twice. She wed Hollywood agent Ned Bergen in 1938 and was divorced in 1948.

She married West in 1951. She and Bergen had adopted two daughters, Liza and Constance, and she and West adopted a son, Duncan. She gave birth to a son, Douglas, in 1954.

Liza West said her mother was born April 30, 1908, four years earlier than her age listed in Hollywood reference books.

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