Eve Arden was a champion for teachers during her time on Our Miss Brooks
Image credit: The Everett Collection
For many fans of Our Miss Brooks (1952), Eve Arden was just another actress who played the role of a school teacher in a classic TV show. But for teachers, Arden was an inspiration and a champion for teachers all over the country.
Arden played the role of Miss Connie Brooks the four seasons Our Miss Brooks was on-air. Although the series was mostly fun and games, Arden and Our Miss Brooks brought awareness to teachers' low salaries and equipment shortages in schools.
"The constant pin-pricking we do — with humor — doesn't hurt," Arden said in a 1953 interview with Star-Gazette. "I do believe this prepares people for legislation that helps teachers."
Although the main purpose of Our Miss Brooks was humor, Arden said she believed it held another purpose: "It helps children to realize that teachers have their own problems outside the school." Arden said there had been no objections from teachers about the show's plot line and characters. Many thought Our Miss Brooks was a good representation of the problems teachers face in their day-to-day.
She said she would receive a large number of PTA calls from teachers and parents alike. According to the interview, Our Miss Brooks impacted not only teachers, but students, former students and those about to start school. Arden said it provided a nostalgic escape among older people. Fans watching the show would compare their former and/or current teachers to Miss Brooks. And young kids would watch Our Miss Brooks just to get an idea of what school will be like.
Many TV stars play somewhat similar roles to their private lives, however, according to a 1955 interview with The Courier-Journal, Arden said she and Miss Brooks were two very different people.
As Connie Brooks she was a single, man-chasing, high school English teacher who could barely get by on a teacher's paycheck. In real life, Arden was married and took care of three children when she wasn't filming. Arden admitted playing Brooks and being herself was a complex balancing act. "As it happens, I can't get to PTA meetings on Tuesday nights because that's when I'm shooting my show,."
Before starting the TV series, Arden was on the original radio broadcast of Our Miss Brooks for seven years. The TV series was produced by Desilu Productions, which was Lucille Ball and Desi Arnaz's production company.
After seven years of the radio show, and four on TV; Arden had a lot of experience being a teacher with none of the actual job training.
"One reason the teachers like Miss Brooks is that the show is done with humor and doesn't make sad sacks out of teachers," Arden said.
Our Miss Brooks put teachers on the map. The series balanced the good and the bad parts of the profession, and inspired many to enter the profession. For Arden, it was important that people see both sides and support teachers. She continued to champion for teachers even after Our Miss Brooks ended in 1956.
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