Lois Nettleton

d. January 18, 2008

Lois Nettleton, 80, stage and screen actress who co-starred with Jerry Van Dyke in the Accidental Family TV series, died Jan. 18 from lung cancer at the Motion Picture Home in Woodland Hills, Calif.

She was a semifinalist in the 1948 Miss America pageant and made her Broadway debut the following year in “The Biggest Thief in Town.” In 1955 she occasionally went on as Maggie the Cat while understudying Barbara Bel Geddes in the Broadway production of “Cat on a Hot Tin Roof.” She won critical plaudits as Blanche in a 1973 Broadway revival of “A Streetcar Named Desire.”

Nettleton became best known on television, in numerous roles dating back to the glory days of Studio One, The U.S. Steel Hour and Armstrong Circle Theatre. Her movie career began with a bit part in “A Face in the Crowd,” although her official introductory role was in 1962’s “Period of Adjustment.”

On television, she made frequent appearances on such 1960s drama series as Dr. Kildare, The Eleventh Hour, Mr. Novak, The Twilight Zone, The Fugitive, Route 66 and East Side, West Side. In Accidental Family, a painfully typical 1967 sitcom, she played the divorced manager of a farm purchased by a brash nightclub comic and widower played by Jerry Van Dyke. A clash of personalities, child-rearing methods and reluctant attraction ensued but the show lasted only half a season.

She continued to take TV roles in such series as Hawaii Five-0, The Mary Tyler Moore Show, Night Gallery, Kung Fu, Murder She Wrote, Cagney and Lacey, The Golden Girls, The Flash and Seinfeld. In 1988 Nettleton was a series regular again in Carroll O’Connor’s TV version of In the Heat of the Night. Three years on ABC’s daily drama General Hospital followed, and recently she had done voice work for Disney Channel cartoons.


Lois Nettleton in “The Twilight Zone” episode, “The Midnight Sun,” above; with Fess Parker in 1968 “Daniel Boone” episode, left.

Lois Nettleton with Karl Malden, above, in 1963 feature “Come Fly With Me”; with Richard Chamberlain and Raymond Massey, left, in 1964 “Dr. Kildare” episode.