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!
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.