The Archive is sad to report the death of actress Doris Singleton. Singleton passed away on June 26th at the age of 92. The multi-talented performer began her career as a ballet dancer in New York and transitioned to work as a singer and actress in network radio, where she appeared on many of the medium’s now-classic shows. She is probably best known in television for her recurring roles as “Carolyn Appleby,” one of Lucy’s friends on I Love Lucy; and as “Magda” on Hogan’s Heroes. She was married to writer Charlie Isaacs, who passed away in 2002.
The Archive interviewed her in 2005. Here are some selections from the interview:
On working on I Love Lucy
The camera over here was Lucy’s, over there was Desi’s, and there was one in the middle that got the whole thing. You had to be very, very careful in your scenes with them that you did not put a hand in her camera. You had to be sure that you were back far enough. It was quite different. We didn’t have any teleprompters — we had notes all over a sweaty palm, which didn’t do us any good at all. And then there were many funny things that happened. Lucy and Vivian Vance were in a scene, and they were having a hard time because we had changes up to the very last minute. And they were having a hard time with this particular scene and remembering the changes, so they wrote them all out on the coffee table, and that was fine. And then we always had a break between acts. The prop man would come and spray you if you had any jewelry on, anything that glittered was sprayed. And then he sprayed their whole coffee table, and they had all of their notes on the table, so that was obliterated completely. But they did it just fine.
On her recurring character on I Love Lucy, “Carolyn Appleby”
On the legacy of I Love Lucy
Every woman thinks that she sees herself in Lucy, wanting to do something more. This was before women’s liberation and everything, and women were still housewives and they took care of the children and that was it, and they didn’t have big careers and so forth. So she represented what a lot of women would like to have in their lives. And the show was funny. It was clean. It could be seen by anyone of the family, from the little child to the grandmother, and it wasn’t going to offend anyone. Of course, at that time, there was a lot of censorship. I mean, they couldn’t be in the same bed together, ever. And they couldn’t say when she was pregnant. It had to be, “we’re having a baby.” and they did.
On her advice to aspiring actors
On a photo with her husband, writer Charlie Isaacs
The entire 3-1/2 hour Archive of American Television interview is available at http://emmytvlegends.org/interviews/people/doris-singleton.