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Happy Birthday, Amzie Strickland!


One of radio’s most prolific character actresses was born in Oklahoma City on this date in 1919: Amzie Strickland.  That first name is pronounced AIM-zee, by the way, and during her lengthy show business career (close to six decades) it was estimated that she appeared on nearly 3,000 broadcasts…not to mention racking up a slew of credits for movies, TV and commercials.

amzie3She began practicing her craft during the Golden Age of Radio in the mid-1940s, appearing on a variety of anthology series that included The Big Story, The Brownstone Theatre, The Cavalcade of America, The Chase, The Ford Theatre and A Voice in the Night.  In addition, Strickland also guest starred (or had recurring roles) on the likes of The Adventures of the Falcon, Barrie Craig, Private Investigator, Call the Police, Gangbusters, Inner Sanctum, The Private Files of Rex Saunders, The Shadow and Suspense.  Amzie’s best remembered radio role is undoubtedly that of Cathy Evans—the girlfriend of corpulent sleuth Brad Runyon (J. Scott Smart), known to audiences as The Fat Man on ABC Radio from 1946 to 1951.  Strickland would later be one of many radio veterans to work on Hiram Brown’s The CBS Radio Mystery Theatre, the attempt to revive old-time radio in the 1970s.  On one particular broadcast, she worked with her husband, actor Frank Behrens, who also made the rounds during radio’s Golden Age on series like Murder by Experts and The Mysterious Traveler.

amzie4At the same time that she was keeping busy over the ether, Amzie Strickland began landing small parts in movies, some of which included Man with the Gun, Battle Hymn, Slaughter on Tenth Avenue, Drango and Curse of the Undead.  Her film roles would multiply in later years, with high profile appearances in Kotch, The One and Only, Harper Valley PTA (as Shirley Thompson, the secretary who likes “a little nip of gin”), Pretty Woman, Doc Hollywood and Krippendorf’s Tribe.  But, it is perhaps TV where Strickland is most well-known: she made multiple guest appearances on such classics as Dragnet (both the 50s and 60s versions), Gunsmoke, The Millionaire, Make Room for Daddy/The Danny Thomas Show, Wagon Train, The Dick Van Dyke Show and Ironside.  Amzie had recurring turns on The Bill Dana Show (as the wife of Jonathan Harris’ manager character), The Andy Griffith Show (as Myra Tucker), Carter Country (as Julia Mobley) and It’s Garry Shandling’s Show (as Mrs. Schumacher).  Her last television credit before her passing in 2006 was a 2000 episode of ER; she appeared twice on that series as Jean Connelly.

19685Radio Spirits features the radio work of Amzie Strickland in its Fat Man collection, and you’ll also hear her on The Adventures of the Falcon set Count Me Out Tonight, Angel.  Amzie also emotes in four CD collections of The Shadow: Knight of Darkness, Radio Treasures, Unearthly Specters, and Silent Avenger.  Happy birthday, Amzie!

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