Arlene Golonka
Arlene Golonka as Millie Swanson
Golonka on Mayberry R.F.D. in 1969
Arlene Leanore Golonka

(1936-01-23)January 23, 1936
DiedMay 31, 2021(2021-05-31) (aged 85)
Years active1958–2005
  • Christopher Michael Haenel
    (m. 19??; div. 19??)
(m. 1963; div. 1967)
Larry Delaney
(m. 1969; div. 1977)

Arlene Leanore Golonka (January 23, 1936 – May 31, 2021) was an American actress. She is perhaps best known for playing Millie Hutchins on the television comedy The Andy Griffith Show and Millie Swanson on Mayberry R.F.D., and often portrayed bubbly, eccentric blondes in supporting character roles on stage, film, and television.

Early years

Golonka was born in Chicago on January 23, 1936, the daughter of Elinor (née Wroblewski) and Frank Golonka, of Polish descent,[1][2][3] She worked as a waitress and began her acting career in her early teens, going professional in a summer-stock troupe.[4][3]


A life member of The Actors Studio,[5] she appeared in her first major production, The Night Circus, with Ben Gazzara,[4] at the Shubert Theater in New Haven, Connecticut, on November 17, 1958. After a week-long trial run, the play moved to Broadway on December 2, 1958, but closed after only seven performances.[6]

Despite that setback, she continued working in other plays such as Take Me Along with Jackie Gleason, Walter Pidgeon and Robert Morse (448 performances from late 1959 to late 1960), Neil Simon's first Broadway play, Come Blow Your Horn, which ran 677 performances from February 1961 until October 1962, and One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest, starring Kirk Douglas, from November 1963 until January 1964. Golonka appeared in two other Broadway plays from 1965 to 1966, and took supporting roles in films produced in the New York City area.[6]

Golonka also recorded for a comedy album, You Don't Have to Be Jewish on June 14, 1964.[3][7] When the time came to record its sequel, When You're in Love the Whole World Is Jewish, she was unavailable, but encouraged her roommate, aspiring actress Valerie Harper, to audition to take her place.[8]

In 1967, Golonka moved to Los Angeles to try her hand at television. She made numerous TV appearances on such series as Car 54, Where Are You?, Get Smart, Barnaby Jones; The Flying Nun, I Spy, That Girl, The Mary Tyler Moore Show, M*A*S*H, All in the Family, Cannon, Maude, The Andy Griffith Show, Mayberry R.F.D., Alice, The Rockford Files, The Streets of San Francisco, One Day at a Time, The San Pedro Beach Bums, Taxi, $weepstake$, Murder, She Wrote, The King of Queens, Valerie, Sunset Beat, and Matlock, among others.[9]

In 1992, Golonka appeared as Sally Nash in the 13th episode "Fool for Love" in season 5 of the television series In the Heat of the Night with Carroll O'Connor. In this episode she played the other woman to a philandering Dr. Vance Talbot (played by actor Robert Ginty) who tries to frame her for the murder of his wife before murdering Nash as well. Golonka was a regular on the animated cartoon Speed Buggy, providing the voice of "Debbie", and had a recurring role on the short-lived TV series Joe & Valerie. She performed voices in other animated series including The New Yogi Bear Show, Capitol Critters, Yogi's Treasure Hunt, and The New Scooby-Doo Movies.

Golonka had supporting roles in some 30 films, including Harvey Middleman, Fireman (1965), Penelope (1966), The Busy Body (1967), Welcome to Hard Times (1967), Hang 'Em High (1968), The Elevator (1974), Airport '77 (1977), The In-Laws (1979), Love At First Bite (1980), The Last Married Couple in America (1980), My Tutor (1983), The End of Innocence (1990), and A Family Affair (2001).

Golonka performed in a number of productions for the West Coast Jewish Theatre.[10][11]

Personal life

Golonka was married and divorced three times. Her first husband was Christopher Michael Haenel.[12] In 1962, she married jazz pianist and composer Mike Longo, and they divorced in 1967.[3] She wed actor Larry Delaney, who appeared with her in one episode of Mayberry R.F.D.,[4] in 1969, and they divorced in 1977.[3]


Golonka died due to complications from Alzheimer's disease in West Hollywood, California on May 31, 2021, at age 85.[13][14]



  1. ^ Harper, Valerie (January 15, 2013). I, Rhoda. Simon and Schuster. ISBN 978-1-4516-9948-7. Retrieved June 2, 2021 – via Google Books.
  2. ^ "Sign In". FamilySearch. Retrieved June 2, 2021.
  3. ^ a b c d e "Arlene Golonka, 85". Classic Images (553): 43. September 2021.
  4. ^ a b c Lewis, Dan (October 5, 1969). "She Had To Be Better". The Record. Hackensack, New Jersey. p. 140. Retrieved September 22, 2019 – via
  5. ^ Garfield, David (1980). "Appendix: Life Members of The Actors Studio as of January 1980". A Player's Place: The Story of The Actors Studio. New York: MacMillan. p. 278. ISBN 978-0-02-542650-4.
  6. ^ a b "Arlene Golonka profile". IBDb. accessed April 27, 2014.
  7. ^ "Album W-012(b) : Bob Booker & George Foster Present You Don't Have To Be Jewish". Freedman Catalogue. Retrieved December 30, 2022.
  8. ^ Molseed, Megan (October 12, 2021). "'The Andy Griffith Show' Star Lived with Valerie Harper, Put 'Rhoda' Actor on Fast Track to Success". Outsider. Retrieved December 30, 2022.
  9. ^ Terrace, Vincent. Encyclopedia of Television Shows, 1925 through 2007. (Jefferson, North Carolina: McFarland & Co. 2008). p. 1469.
  10. ^ "L.A. Jewish Theatre to Digest Fugumetunachai at Dec. 12 Reading". playbill. Retrieved December 30, 2022.
  11. ^ "Productions". Retrieved December 30, 2022.
  12. ^ "Christopher Michael Haenel". The Desert Sun. Palm Springs, Calif. September 18, 2016. Archived from the original on March 26, 2021. Retrieved March 26, 2021 – via
  13. ^ Shanfeld, Ethan (June 1, 2021). "Arlene Golonka, 'Mayberry R.F.D.' and Sitcom Veteran, Dies at 85". Yahoo!. Archived from the original on June 2, 2021. Retrieved June 2, 2021.
  14. ^ Barnes, Mike (June 1, 2021). "Arlene Golonka, Actress on Broadway and 'Mayberry R.F.D.,' Dies at 85". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved June 2, 2021.