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Originally published Friday, April 30, 2010 at 8:55 PM

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'Mad World' actress, Bainbridge Island resident Dorothy Provine dies

Dorothy Provine, who played the singing, high-kicking flapper in the early-1960s TV series "The Roaring Twenties" and appeared in the all-star movie comedy "It's a Mad Mad Mad Mad World," has died. She was 75. Ms. Provine, a longtime resident of Bainbridge Island, died of emphysema Sunday at Hospice of Kitsap County in Bremerton,

Los Angeles Times

Movie and TV roles

ACTRESS DOROTHY PROVINE was best known for her roles as Milton Berle's wife and Ethel Merman's daughter in "It's a Mad Mad Mad Mad World" in 1963 and as the high-kicking flapper in the 1960-1962 TV series "The Roaring Twenties." Her movie and TV credits also include:

1958: "The Bonnie Parker Story" and "Live Fast, Die Young"

1959: "The 30 Foot Bride of Candy Rock" and "Riot in Juvenile Prison"

1964: "Good Neighbor Sam"

1965: "That Darn Cat!" and "The Great Race"

1968: "Never a Dull Moment"

Other TV appearances were on "77 Sunset Strip," "Hawaiian Eye," "Sugarfoot," "Wagon Train" and "Mike Hammer."

The Associated Press

Dorothy Provine, who played the singing, high-kicking flapper in the early-1960s TV series "The Roaring Twenties" and appeared in the all-star movie comedy "It's a Mad Mad Mad Mad World," has died. She was 75.

Ms. Provine, a longtime resident of Bainbridge Island, died of emphysema Sunday at Hospice of Kitsap County in Bremerton, said her husband, Robert Day.

A former University of Washington drama major, Ms. Provine landed the title role in the low-budget 1958 gangster film "The Bonnie Parker Story" three days after arriving in Hollywood.

The blond actress also played the title role in the 1959 movie "The 30 Foot Bride of Candy Rock" opposite Lou Costello and made a string of TV guest shots before landing her first TV series, "The Alaskans," a 1959-60 ABC adventure program set in the Alaskan gold rush of the 1890s.

Ms. Provine played Rocky Shaw, the saloon-singer friend of fortune hunters played by Roger Moore and Jeff York.

But the Warner Bros. contract player gained far more attention playing Pinky Pinkham, the singing and dancing star attraction at a high-end speak-easy in the 1960-62 ABC series "The Roaring Twenties," a New York City-set newspaper drama with Rex Reason and Donald May as investigative reporters.

Dubbed "TV's 'It' girl" by UPI's Rick Du Brow in 1961, Ms. Provine told the writer she "wanted to play the flapper in this show so badly that I'd go home and pray."

"When the studio was looking for the girl for the flapper part in 'The Roaring Twenties' and asked me if I could dance, I said, 'Yeah.' I worked like a dog at home getting the Charleston as fast and frantic as I could. The secret is that I put on 33 rpm records at 78 rpm speed."

While still under contract to Warner Bros., Ms. Provine was lent out to play Jack Lemmon's wife in the 1964 movie comedy, "Good Neighbor Sam," and she played Milton Berle's wife and Ethel Merman's daughter in "It's a Mad Mad Mad Mad World."

She also teamed up with George Burns in a nightclub act that played Las Vegas in the summer of 1963.

Among her other film credits are "The Great Race," "That Darn Cat!," "Who's Minding the Mint?" and "Never a Dull Moment."

Dean Jones, who co-starred with Hayley Mills and Ms. Provine in "That Darn Cat!," recalled having lunch with Ms. Provine in the executive dining room at Disney Studios while making the 1965 movie.

"She was kind of like a Roman candle, to me," Jones recalled. "Several times during lunch I'd just sit back and listen and watch her. She had a quicksilver personality and was always talking about interesting events and stories about her past.

"I felt she was a very underrated actress. She did everything, really. But she was mainly a comedienne and a very funny gal, and you knew in a scene that she was not going to drop the ball."

Ms. Provine was born Jan. 20, 1935, in Deadwood, S.D., and grew up in San Francisco.

In 1969, she married Day, a film and television director.

"When we got married, she wasn't really interested in acting or being in the movies anymore," Day said. "She was a homebody, very much so."

He said that after they moved to Bainbridge Island in 1981, "I still made some television shows, but Dorothy was totally retired. She loved working in the garden until she got sick. Her love was that and animals, particularly dogs."

His wife enjoyed the quiet life, he said, "and she loved Bainbridge. It's still reasonably rural, which we love."

In addition to her husband and their musician son Robert Day, Ms. Provine is survived by her sisters, Susan Cameron of Silverdale and Patricia Coldiron of California.

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