R.I.P. Gloria Henry, the mom on Dennis the Menace

The actress behind Mrs. Mitchell died one day following her 98th birthday.

Read to Me

It takes a lot of patience to be the mother of Dennis the Menace. Alice Mitchell made her debut in 1951, when Hank Ketcham's Dennis the Menace comic strip premiered in newspapers. The exploits of the lovable scamp was an immediate hit, because, by the end of the decade, Hollywood was calling for an adaptation.

The Dennis the Menace sitcom premiered in 1959, on the heels of Leave It to Beaver, which proved that a show centered around a cute and mischievous child could work in primetime. In fact, Dennis the Menace was green-lit specifically as a replacement for Beaver, after the Cleavers jumped networks. CBS found itself in need of a new kid.

Just seven years old when cast, Jay North brought Dennis to life. With an inexperienced kid at the core of the series, producers needed steady veterans around him. Enter Gloria Henry, who had been working for more than a decade in motion pictures. 

Henry, a New Orleans native, had previously found herself somewhat pigeonholes in sports movies. She shared the screen with thoroughbreds in Sport of Kings (1947), and made another horse-racing flick a year later with Racing Luck (1948). She also did football (Triple Threat) and baseball (Kill the Umpire). In 1949, she landed a role in the romantic comedy Miss Grant Takes Richmond, which was headlined by a future TV icon — Lucille Ball.

Not long before Dennis the Menace booked her, Henry appeared in the premiere episode of Perry Mason, "The Case of the Restless Redhead."

Dennis the Menace ran for four years — a smash hit in those days. In its first three seasons, the sitcom ranked in television's Top 20. Herbert Anderson, who portrayed father Henry Mitchell, explained in a 1994 interview with The Salt Lake Tribune, that he and Gloria relied on their real-world experience as parents to guide the writers.

"Many times, Gloria or I would read what Dennis was supposed to do and we'd say, 'If my kid did that, I'd whack him,'" Anderson said. "And the writers would cut that part out. They listened to us."

Following the end of the sitcom (Jay North was approaching puberty and Joseph Kearns, the actor behind Mr. Wilson, passed away during production) Henry found herself typecast as a sitcom mom. The roles dried up in the '60s and '70s. Nevertheless, she returned to small roles in the 1980s and continued to work in TV for decades. Her final role was playing a Pawnee senior citizen in a 2012 episode of Parks and Recreation, "Campaign Shake-Up," alongside fellow television legend Carl Reiner.

Henry died on April 3, one day after her birthday, according to The Hollywood Reporter. She has just turned 98.

 
Are you sure you want to delete this comment?
Close

22 Comments

Post a comment
Arnied 7 days ago
Great actress from the old school, shame she was types cast with that character from Dennis the menace. She probably could of done so much more on television in the 70’s and 80’s.
jacko3 3 months ago
// wholesome show .. lovely actress - Gloria Henry - GOD Bless her Soul ...
DianeChavez 6 months ago
Thank you ME TV for existing! I love all the vintage shows! One of my favorite shows is
HIGHWAY PATROL with Broderick Crawford! I wish ME TV would show an hour of this show!
Maverick is another wonderful show! Such handsome actors! ME TV rocks!
CarolKelley 6 months ago
RIP, Gloria! I loved you as Alice Mitchell.
DianeChavez CarolKelley 6 months ago
I loved Gloria Henry! I didn't know she had passed. :(
She was a joy to watch as were all the actors on Dennis The Menace!
Fitzwilly 6 months ago
I've always loved Gloria Henry. As a kid I used to watch reruns of Dennis the Menace and had a small crush on Dennis's mom... It looks like she had quite a full life.. R.I.P. Gloria Henry, you are one of my childhood icons of happiness and security...
JDWJDW2 6 months ago
I always enjoyed Dennis the Menace. I really like the theme song as well as Joseph Kearns as Mr. Wilson and later Gale Gordon as Kearns replacement. The show was a good example of clean family programming.
Stoney 6 months ago
RIP. Is "Dennis the Menace" showing anywhere? Might be a good fit on MeTV...
cperrynaples Stoney 6 months ago
It's already on Antenna TV!
Stoney cperrynaples 6 months ago
Oh ok. I don't think I get that...I'm on ATT U-Verse. Thanks for the info though.
robyni23 Stoney 6 months ago
I watch it on Pluto tv. A free app. Comes on at 10:00 p.m. est
Stoney robyni23 6 months ago
Ok thanks
CarolKelley Stoney 6 months ago
Antenna TV like ME-TV and COZI are carried by your local broadcast stations. One of my daughters cut out cable, but she still got ME-TV and Antenna TV, maybe COZI, too, through the broadcast channels they got.
Kenner 6 months ago
She was so pretty. Sometimes I wished she was my mom way back then. RIP.
Dario 6 months ago
Rest in peace, Mrs. Mitchell. And Happy Birthday as well. ❤️❤️❤️❤️❤️ 🎂🎂🎂🎂🎂 ☺️☺️☺️☺️☺️
harlow1313 6 months ago
It's no surprise that hellion Dennis put her in an early grave!
cperrynaples harlow1313 6 months ago
Yep, it only took him 62 years...LOL!
Are you sure you want to delete this comment?