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Barbara Pepper

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Barbara Pepper (May 31, 1915 – July 18, 1969) was an American actress.

Born as Marion Pepper in New York City, she started in show business at the age of 16 as one of the Goldwyn Girls where she met lifelong friend Lucille Ball. Pepper began making movies and did radio parts.

Marriage

In 1943 she married an actor, Craig W. Reynolds; they had two sons. They separated in 1949, and after Reynolds died the same year in a motorcycle accident, leaving Pepper to raise their children alone, she reportedly developed a drinking problem. Two years later, when Lucille Ball and Desi Arnaz were starting their landmark CBS television series, I Love Lucy, they wanted to cast radio actress Bea Benaderet to play Lucy Ricardo's best friend and neighbor, Ethel Mertz. However, Benaderet was unavailable, so the Arnazes considered hiring Pepper in the role. Unfortunately, her alcoholism prevented her from getting hired on a regular basis and as a result, Broadway actress Vivian Vance was cast as Ethel. During its six-year run, Pepper did appear on "I Love Lucy" several times in various roles.

Later years

After that her roles were mostly confined to small movie parts, among them My Fair Lady and It's a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World. She may be best remembered as the first Doris Ziffel on Green Acres. However, her heart ailments forced her to leave the series and she was replaced by Fran Ryan.

Death

Pepper died on July 18, 1969, in Panorama City, California, aged 54, from a coronary thrombosis.

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