Beatrice Colen had a famous grandfather who was too cool to be called grandfather

The Happy Days carhop was granddaughter of a Pulitzer-winning playwright.

Most folks remember Natalie Schafer as the millionaire's wife on Gilligan’s Island, but to Beatrice Colen — a young actor who got her start as a Happy Days carhop — Schafer was the helping hand she needed in Hollywood.

According to the 2013 book Mary Wickes: I Know I've Seen That Face Before, Colen had just come to Los Angeles to start pursuing an acting career when Schafer made the fateful call that got her cast as Marsha Simms on Happy Days.

The book describes how Colen, who was known as Betsy to friends, was first spotted in public when an excited maître d' of a restaurant saw her and squealed, "Aren't you in Happy Days?!"

In the Seventies, Betsy would go on to play Wonder Woman's best friend Etta Candy, as well as memorably guest starring in hit shows like The Odd Couple and All in the Family.

And it was all thanks to Schafer nudging her acting career along.

This is surprising since Colen comes from a famous family who some might've expected were the ones to help her jumpstart her acting career.

Colen's grandfather was Pulitzer-winning playwright George S. Kaufman. He famously co-wrote The Man Who Came to Dinner, and in 1951, he won a Tony Award for directing Guys and Dolls.

He knew a thing or two about the stage, but by Colen's account, he wasn't necessarily the warmest, fuzziest grandfather on the planet.

"He insisted I call him George because 'Grandfather' made him feel old," Colen told The Sun-Advocate in 1976.

Respecting her elder, Colen called her grandfather George, but she never forgot the one time she messed up and called him the G-word.

"I never saw him outdoors but once — on the sidewalk in carpet slippers," Colen said. "I was so surprised I blurted out, 'Grandfather!' Then I became so frightened at having called him that, I ran away without hearing what he said."

Colen may have run away from her grandfather, but she was running toward an acting career and the role on Happy Days secured a bright future for her in Hollywood.

Unfortunately, Colen also had to deal with the dark times of illness.

Diagnosed with Hodgkin's disease at 18, she was cured by a radiation treatment that, unfortunately, later was said to have caused the lung cancer that led to her death at 51.

Between those illnesses, doctors told her and her husband Patrick Cronin that they would never have kids, but they proved the doctors wrong, having two sons.

One son decided to follow in Betsy’s footsteps and start acting as a teen, not because he admired his mom, but because he was interested in a girl in his drama class.

The first play where Betsy's son would play the lead happened to come during a high school production of his great-grandfather's most famous work, The Man Who Came to Dinner.

Colen's health was fading fast and she knew she would be unlikely to make it to opening night due to her illness.

But unlike her grandfather, who wasn't extremely involved in pushing her to act, Colen died pushing her son to perform.

"No matter what happens, I want you to be on stage opening night," Colen told her son.

His opening night came on the same day that she died, and honoring his mother’s wishes, he performed in his great-grandfather's play.

Her loving husband Patrick was by her side and reported that the character actor known for playing comeback queens was cracking jokes until her final breath.

"She was sweet and she was funny," Patrick told The Los Angeles Times in 1999.

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bagandwallyfan80 27 months ago
I wish that the following characters on Happy Days
Had Not Vanished:
1 Chuck Cunningham 2 Randolph Roberts
Moose Barry Greenberg
Eugene Belvin Denis MANDEL
Melvin Belvin Scott Bernstein
Spike Danny Butch
Marsha Simms Beatrice Colen
Wendy Misty Rowe
KC Cunningham Crystal Bernard
Flip Phillips Billy Warlock
Bruiser Paul Linke
Rebel :Reb Brown
bagandwallyfan80 27 months ago
Happy Days Quiz
An Article on Whatever Happened To The Cast Members Of Happy Days Article ?
bagandwallyfan80 27 months ago
Besides Chuck Cunningham (Gavan O'Herlihy and Randolph Roberts) there was a different
Chuck who vanished into thin
air with no explanation on one
Of the Three Mayberry Sitcoms.
Does anyone know who this
Other Chuck is what show he
Was on and the name of
The actor who played The
Other Chuck??
bagandwallyfan80 27 months ago
Could someone out there Post
2 Photos of 2 Practical Jokers
Under the Beatrice Colen (Marsha Simms Article :
SKIP YOUNG who played
Wally Plumstead on The Adventures Of Ozzie And Harriet
Happy Days?
bagandwallyfan80 27 months ago
On the Happy Days episode
Give The Band A Hand from
Season one is the episode
With the first appearance of
Richie's band -Richie(Ron
Howard) Potsie (Anson Williams)
Ralph (Donny Most) and Bag
(Neil J. Schwartz) and the Last
Appearance of Chuck Cunningham 1 Gavan O'Herlihy.
Gavan O'Herlihy AKA Chuck Cunningham literally Gets the
Last Laugh and The Last Line
On his Last Appearance on
Happy Days .
Richie Howard Marion Joanie
And Chuck are eating the Willow
Soup that Joanie made with the
Junior Chipmunks.
Chuck says This soup is wonderful -Could I have some
More soup.And then the other
Cunningham's give Chuck four
Bowls of soup .
Final Fadeout of Chuck Cunningham 1 Gavan O'Herlihy
And get ready for Chuck Cunningham 2 Randolph Roberts
On Two Episodes ONLY of
Happy Days(,Richie Moves Out
And Guess Who's Coming To
ADIOS Gavan O'Herlihy and Randolph Roberts 1 and 2.
Ric Carrott played Chuck Cunningham on the Love
American Style Episode
Love And The Happy Days
With Susan Nehar as Joanie
And Harold Gould as Howard
Rest In Peace
Gavan O'Herlihy
Chuck Cunningham
Happy Days
Season 1 1974
Farewell To A Wonderful Actor
bagandwallyfan80 27 months ago
On Happy Days tonight Monday
Is the episode Fonzie Joins The Band with Richie Cunningham
Potsie Webber Ralph Malph
bagandwallyfan80 27 months ago
On Happy Days tonight Feb 2 at
6:30 pm on METV is the episode of Happy Days called Cruisin'
where Richie Potsie and Ralph
Make a bet with BAG Neil J. SCHWARTZ on who can come up first with a date.
Maureen McCormick plays Hildie
and Michael Lembeck plays Dooley.
LmerFudd 27 months ago
I believe she had a 1 or 2 line part near the end of the 1970s Sam Elliott film, Lifeguard, during the high school reunion scene.
bagandwallyfan52 28 months ago
There was one character on HAPPY DAYS who was the only
Character to talk to Eugene
Belvin Melvin Belvin and
Bag Zombroski .Can any fan
of Happy Days name the only
Character who talked in different episodes to Bag and
Eugene and Melvin and an
Anyone name any of the Happy
Days episodes where this HD
Character talked to Bag and
Melvin and EUGENE?
It looks like I stumped everyone with my Happy Days QUESTION:There was
One Character on Happy
Days who was the only
Character on Happy Days
Melvin Belvin (Scott Bernstein) Bag ZOMBROSKI (Neil J. Schwartz) and
Chuck Cunningham 2 Randolph Roberts.
AnnieM 28 months ago
I liked her character from 'Wonder Woman'. I was so disappointed when they did the time jump to the 70's when they moved to CBS. I thought the WWII-era episodes were so much better.
KevinButler 28 months ago
Poor Betsy..A talented and sweet lady that left us all too soon.
jvf 28 months ago
Bittersweet. She was a natural actress. Gone too soon.
Runeshaper 28 months ago
This story made me smile and made me sad, but I'm glad to have read it (-:
DerekBird 28 months ago
I missed # 3. I never liked those shows and to top it off they were all on NBC.

You got 9 out of 10!
Well done! Everyone else can eat your dust! We bet you can even pull off a "Rockford Turn."
Michael 28 months ago
I hadn't realized Marsha was Etta. I can see it now, but Marsha seemed taller.
Moverfan Michael 28 months ago
I believe Marsha was on roller skates most of the time--or maybe it's just because we were younger (and shorter) in the early seventies.
bagandwallyfan80 Moverfan 27 months ago
Wendy Misty Rowe was also on roller skates and
On Happy Days Ralph Malph Donny Most and Bag ZOMBROSKI Neil J SCHWARTZ.and Bobby MELNER Harris Kal were
the Practical Jokers on Happy Days.
daDoctah 28 months ago
As luck would have it I just started (at the start of the new year) watching The Rockford Files on another channel, and within the past week they ran an episode in which she has a run-in with Jim Rockford at a phone booth where he's trying to sic the police on the bad guys while she just wants to call her bookie to place a bet on a horse. Rockford makes one last call to his own bookie to bet on the same horse for himself before relinquishing the phone to her, but by this time it's too late for her to get her bet down. (Unfortunately we never get to hear whether he won anything on the bet.)
Andybandit 28 months ago
Her character on Happy Days was funny. I passed away too young.
bagandwallyfan52 28 months ago
Its nice to see an article on
Beatrice Colen (Marsha Simms)
One of the supporting cast of Happy Days.
METV Comment Line Viewers:
Are there other supporting cast
Members of Happy Days or
minor characters on HAPPY
DAYS that you would like to see
METV write Articles on ??
bagandwallyfan52 28 months ago
On the Happy Days episode The
Deadly Dares where Richie Cunningham and Potsie Weber
Wanted to join the Demons
Club Richie and Potsie tied
A policeman's shoes together
And he falls toward Marsha
Simms(Beatrice Colen ) and
Marsha screams "All Men Are
Animals" and that was a funny
Scene. I wish that Beatrice Colen had stayed on HAPPY Days the entire 11 years.
The policeman on The
Deadly Dares episode of Happy Days was played
By Jack Riley who played
Elliot Carlin on The Bob
Newhart Show.
Moverfan bagandwallyfan52 28 months ago
He did at least one episode of Hogan's Heroes as a German officer (opposite Gimme A Break's John Hoyt, who played a general). Anybody else think they understand where Mr. Carlin's problems may have come from?
Very Interesting!!!!!
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