"I Love Lucy" Actress Shirley Mitchell Dies at 94

Shirley Mitchell played Lucy and Ethel's gossipy friend Marion Strong

By Natalie Finn
|  Thursday, Nov 14, 2013  |  Updated 2:23 PM EDT
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    It's hard to believe that the Wednesday Afternoon Fine Arts League is all gone.

    Shirley Mitchell, who played Lucy and Ethel's gossipy friend Marion Strong on I Love Lucy, has died. She was 94 and is believed to be the last surviving adult cast member from the classic 1950s sitcom. (Doris Singleton, who played Carolyn Appleby, just died last year.)

    The actress' sister-in-law, fellow thesp Nancy Olson, told The Hollywood Reporter that Mitchell died Monday of heart failure at her home in Westwood.

    Though Mitchell actually only appeared in three episodes of I Love Lucy (replacing the original Marion, Margie Liszt), she truly played a key role even in absentia: During a fight with hubby Ricky, played by Desi Arnaz, Lucille Ball's lead redhead joked that the only thing she regretted was when Marion Strong asked her to go on a blind date with a Cuban drummer and she said "yes."

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    So thank you, Marion Strong.

    She was best known for Lucy--getting the all-girl orchestra together for "12th Street Rag," volunteering herself as emcee for their women's club beneift because she once hosted "Senior Shenanigans" at the Rappahannock School for Girls, asking Lucy how much she weighed when Lucy had promised to only tell the truth--but Mitchell also had a radio career and continued to act on the small screen for decades.

    Her credits included Please Don't Eat the Daisies, The Dick Van Dyke Show, The Beverly Hillbillies, Green Acres and Petticoat Junction, The Odd Couple, Chico and the Man, Three's Company and The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air. In 2012, she lent her voice to Cartoon Network's Mad, playing Betty White.

    Mitchell attended the 5th Annual TV Awards in 2007 when Ball, who passed away in 1989, was honored posthumously with the Legacy of Laughter Award.

    Her second husband, pop composer Jay Livingston, died in 2001. Survivors include son Scott and daughter Brooke from her first marriage.

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