The witch of Leave It to Beaver was the ''Freeway Lady'' in a massive Hollywood mural painting

She was also Fonzie's grandma and the first female judge on Perry Mason!

"The Old Woman of the Freeway" by Kent Twitchell / Los Angeles Valley College

In 1974, painter Kent Twitchell wanted to honor his grandmother in a big way. Literally. The muralist chose a wall on the exterior of the Angeles Prince Hotel, which stood next to the Hollywood Freeway. The artist hoped to recreate a woven blanket his grandmother had once made. All he needed was a model.

Twitchell turned to a character actress named Lillian Bronson to represent his grandmother. The artist thought Bronson looked like his granny. The resulting work, "The Old Woman of the Freeway," became commonly called the "Freeway Lady." It was a landmark to local residents — until it was painted over in 1986.

But you can't keep a good woman down. Nearly three decades later, the "Freeway Lady" returned when Los Angeles Valley College commissioned Twitchell to recreate the mural on Student Services Center. The 2015 remake still stands. 

Alas, Lillian Bronson had passed away in 1995 and never saw the return of her mammoth likeness.

Classic TV fans will recognize Lillian Bronson from several favorite shows. She was the first woman to play a judge on Perry Mason, a role she filled three times beginning with "The Case of the Corresponding Corpse."

In Mayberry, she was Erma Bishop, who was, well "Miss Mayberry," at least according to beauty contest judge Andy Taylor. The sheriff picked the elderly resident as the pageant winner in "The Beauty Contest." 

Of course, we fondly remember her as the "witch" on Leave It to Beaver. In "The Haunted House," Beaver gets spooked when he enters the old abode of Miss Cooper (Bronson). It was the first house to get electricity in Mayfield! Beaver believes Cooper to be a witch, and June admits that the boy has been having nightmares since sneaking into her home. Of course, the matter is cleared up in a wholesome way.

Bronson's final screen role came on Happy Days, where she played Mrs. Nussbaum, Fonzie's grandmother! "Fonzie Moves In" aired in 1975, not long after Bronson posed for her iconic painting.

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tootsieg 6 months ago
Lillian Bronson is one of my favorite female character actresses. Pops up in so many MeTV shows.
David 9 months ago
I believe she is also in the intro to Perry Mason as a member of the gallery.
BuckeyeBeth 40 months ago
I'm so glad they re-painted the mural. All the murals around town was one of the things I really enjoyed when I visited L.A. like forever ago. I was so happy when my town finally started doing the same thing here. It really breaks up and beautifies all of the cities ugly concrete structures. I never saw the freeway lady when I was there, but I do remember seeing one of Edward James Olmos.

This was a cool article, and can we see more of this kind of thing MeTV? :)
Deleted 45 months ago
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ckd26238 45 months ago
You shouldn’t be puttin this smut on here
Kenner 45 months ago
R.I.P. she passed in 1995 at the ripe old age of 92. I think they repainted her Murel somewhere else a few years ago.
Pacificsun 45 months ago
Nice story of a "senior citizen" capitalizing on her charm!

Good job MeTV!
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