R.I.P. Arlene Golonka, love interest to both Howard and Sam in Mayberry
The Andy Griffith Show and Mayberry R.F.D. actress was 85.
The 1967 film Thoroughly Modern Millie told the tale of a small-town girl living in New York City and hoping to marry for money. That same year, another Millie was working in a Mayberry bakery, and she was content to stay in her small town and settle for the humble Howard Sprague, thank you very much.
Arlene Golonka played Millie Hutchins in two episodes of The Andy Griffith Show. Her role evolved into Millie Swanson on Mayberry R.F.D., which was essentially the same character. Remember, Mayberry names, from "Goober Beasley" to Barney's middle initial, were known to be rather fluid. In the spin-off, the bubbly blonde was still working the counter in the bakery, only she was now dating Sam Jones.
Golonka began her career in serious stage dramas. She studied under titans of theater such as Lee Strasberg, Uta Hagen and Sanford Meisner, some of the pioneers of "method acting." A member of The Actors Studio, Golonka acted in productions alongside Kirk Douglas (One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest) and Jackie Gleason (Take Me Along). She starred in Neil Simon's first play, Come Blow Your Horn.
The Chicago native also excelled at comedy. In 1965, Golonka appeared as an ensemble performer on the hit comedy album You Don't Have to Be Jewish. The title was a nod to a marketing slogan for Levy's Rye Bread — "You Don't Have to be Jewish to love Levy's!"
You Don't Have to Be Jewish climbed the Billboard charts all the way to No. 9, thanks to skits like "A Call From Long Island" and "The Luncheon." Both prominently featured Golonka.
At the time, Golonka happened to be living with a rather talented roommate — Valerie Harper. Golonka helped her roomie land a gig on both the You Don't Have to Be Jewish sequel album and with the Second City comedy troupe in Chicago.
Golonka made the move to television and found the most success and screen time in Mayberry. She did later appear as a nurse on M*A*S*H, Nurse Edwina 'Eddie' Ferguson, in "Edwina."
In the 1990s, Golonka reunited with her old Mayberry pal Andy Griffith for two episodes of Matlock. She played a character named Jackie in both — but just like Millie, they had different names.
On May 31, Golonka passed away in West Hollywood, according to The Hollywood Reporter. She was 85.