1 9 5 2 – 1 9 5 6 (USA)
154 x 30 minute episodes
Another television comedy hit that travelled the traditional radio-to-television route, the CBS series Our Miss Brooks starred former screen star Eve Arden in the title role.
Arden moved virtually the entire radio cast with her as she played the comely, smart and sharp-witted Constance “Connie” Brooks, English teacher at (fictional) Madison High School. She lived at Mrs Davis’s boarding house on Carroll Avenue where Margaret Davis (Jane Morgan), the owner, had a cat named Minerva.
Between gentle wisecracks, Miss Brooks doted on nerdish, dimwitted, squeaky-voiced student Walter Denton (Richard Crenna) and frequently locked horns with crusty, cranky principal Mr Osgood P Conklin (Gale Gordon, typecasting himself in preparation for later series and countless Lucy shows).
Many of the show’s episodes revolved around Miss Brooks’s unrequited desire for Philip Boynton (Robert Rockwell), the school’s biology teacher.
Connie started dating Philip in 1948 when he got his pet lab frog, McDougal. But Philip was just not romantic and treated Connie with respect (too much, Connie believed).
Despite the lack of affection (even kisses), she loved Philip and hoped to make a man out of him.
Ratings for the show were beginning to wane in 1955 and the series was overhauled with Miss Brooks and Mr Conklin moved out of Madison High (which was being demolished to make way for a highway) to Mrs Nestor’s Private Elementary School.
For a time, there was no Mr Boynton for whom Miss Brooks would pine, but there was a muscle-bound teacher of physical education, Mr Talbot (Gene Barry), who longed for Miss Brooks. This was an important turn-about in the overall premise of the show: now Miss Brooks was the pursued rather than the pursuer.
Mr Boynton did turn up again in early 1956, just as the series was about to be cancelled. In a 1956 film version of the series released by Warner Brothers, Miss Brooks and Mr Boynton finally did tie the knot and presumably lived happily ever after.
While some professional educators criticised the series, others celebrated Miss Brooks and Arden’s work. She received real teaching job offers and fan letters from educators, she was made an honorary member of the National Education Association, and in 1952 she was given an award from the Alumni Association of the Teachers College of Connecticut for “humanising the American Teacher”.
Constance “Connie” Brooks
Osgood P Conklin
Mrs Margaret Davis
Miss Daisy Enright
Mary Jane Croft
Mrs Martha Conklin
Virginia Gordon (1)
Paula Winslowe (2)
Mr Oliver Munsey
Nana Bryant (1)
Isabel Randolph (2)