Barbara Pepper ~ The Heartbroken Alcoholic

Barbara Pepper was a beautiful starlet who became an alcoholic after her husband's death

She was born Marion Pepper on May 31, 1915 in New York City. Her family moved to Albany when her father, Dave Pepper, was hired to be the manager of the Hampton Hotel. Barbara attended Fairfax Hall, a prep school for girls in Virginia. At the age of fifteen she auditioned for producer Lee Shubert and was hired to be in George White's Scandals. In 1932 she danced in the Ziegfeld Follies. Then she was chosen to be one of the Goldwyn Girls and appeared in the films Roman Scandals and Kid Millions. She became close friends with fellow Goldwyn Girl Lucille Ball. During the 1930s she had supporting roles in numerous films including Waterfront Lady, Too Many Wives, and The Singing Vagabond. The vivacious blonde also starred in the 1936 Wheeler and Woolsey comedy Mummy's Boys. In 1937 she married actor Leon Janney. They split up just three weeks later. Barbara married actor Craig Reynolds on April 28, 1943. The couple had two sons together - John and Dennis. She continued to get bit parts in films like Cover Girl and The Snake Pit.

 Although she made more than one hundred movies she never became an A-list star. In an interview she said "I've done a few very bad roles, one or two good ones, and a lot of in-between ones." Tragically in 1949 her husband Craig was killed in a motorcycle accident. Barbara was devastated by his death. She began to drink and gain weight. Her friend Lucille Ball wanted he to play the role of Ethel Mertz on I Love Lucy. Unfortunately her alcoholism had gotten so bad she could not take the part. Barbara did guest star on several episodes of I Love Lucy. She also appeared on the shows Perry Mason, Mister Ed, and Gunsmoke. When her acting jobs didn't pay the bills she worked in a laundry. From 1964 until 1968 she played Doris Ziffell on the popular comedy Green Acres. As she got older her drinking began to affect her health. Her final acting role was in the 1969 film Hook, Line, And Sinker. On July 18, 1969 she died from coronary thrombosis. Barbara was only fifty-four years old. She was buried at Hollywood Forever cemetery in Los Angeles, California.