Breezy blonde Barbara Pepper in a striking 1932 closeup study. She was born Marion Pepper in New York City on May 31, 1915. At age 16 she started life in show business with the Goldwyn Girls, a musical stock company where she met Lucille Ball, (with whom she would remain lifelong friends), during production of Eddie Cantor's “Roman Scandals” (1933). A couple of movies gave her the chance for brassy stardom, including “Our Daily Bread” (1934) as a floozie named Sally, and a love interest role opposite comedian Bert Wheeler in “Mummy's Boys” (1936). From 1937 to 1943, Pepper was a prolific actress, appearing mostly in supporting roles. Among her later film parts were small roles in “It's a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World” (1963) and “My Fair Lady” (1964). In 1943, she married actor Craig Reynolds and the couple later had two sons. After Reynolds died in 1949 in a California motorcycle accident, Pepper was left to raise their children alone. After gaining significant weight, her roles were mostly confined to small character parts on television, including several appearances on I Love Lucy, The George Burns and Gracie Allen Show, Petticoat Junction, and The Jack Benny Program. Pepper may be best remembered as the first Doris Ziffel on “Petticoat Junction” in 1964, although her character's name on the "Genghis Keane" episode of Petticoat Junction was Ruth Ziffel. Her role as Doris Ziffel continued on “Green Acres” from 1965 to 1968, until health ailments finally forced her to leave that weekly series. Pepper's final performance was in “Hook, Line & Sinker” (1969), in which she played Jerry Lewis's secretary. Barbara Pepper died of a coronary thrombosis at age 54 on July 18, 1969, in Panorama City, California.
Color enhanced image by Hollywood Pinups from the b&w original.