Barbara Pepper
Barbara Pepper in Girls in Chains (1943).jpg
Pepper in Girls in Chains (1943)
Marion Pepper

(1915-05-31)May 31, 1915
New York City, U.S.
DiedJuly 18, 1969(1969-07-18) (aged 54)
Resting placeHollywood Forever Cemetery
Other namesBarbara P. Enfield (married name)
Years active1931–1969
(m. 1943; died 1949)

Barbara Pepper (born Marion Pepper; May 31, 1915 – July 18, 1969)[1] was an American stage, television, radio, and film actress. She is best known as the first Doris Ziffel on the sitcom Green Acres.

Early life and career

Marion Pepper was born in New York City, the daughter of actor David Mitchell "Dave" Pepper, and his wife, Harrietta S. Pepper.[2] At age 16 she started life in show business with Goldwyn Girls, a musical stock company where she met Lucille Ball, with whom she would remain friends, during production of Eddie Cantor's Roman Scandals in 1933.[3]

Pepper in The Rogues' Tavern
Pepper in The Rogues' Tavern

From 1937 to 1943, Pepper was a prolific actress, appearing in 43 movies, mostly in supporting roles or in minor films, with exceptions being main characters in The Rogues' Tavern and Mummy's Boys, both feature films released in 1936.[3] Among her later film parts were small roles in It's a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World (1963) and My Fair Lady (1964). She also performed radio parts.

In 1943, she married actor Craig Reynolds (né Harold Hugh Enfield), 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.[4] She never remarried.

After gaining 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. She made four appearances on Perry Mason, including the role of Martha Dale, mother of the title character, in the 1957 episode "The Case of the Vagabond Vixen". In 1957, she guest-starred in the episode "The Diet" of the CBS situation comedy Mr. Adams and Eve, credited as "Fat Woman." In 1958, she appeared as "Boxcar Annie" on the television western Tales of Wells Fargo in the episode titled "Butch Cassidy".

A long-time friend of Lucille Ball, Pepper was first considered for the role of Ethel Mertz on I Love Lucy, but was passed over, purportedly due to the fact that she had a drinking problem. William Frawley ("Fred Mertz") did, likewise, and had already been cast. It was felt that having two drinkers in the cast might eventually cause difficulties so another actress was sought.[5]

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. Actress Fran Ryan replaced her on Green Acres, which would continue to run for another three years. Pepper's final performance was in Hook, Line & Sinker (1969), in which she played Jerry Lewis's secretary.[6]


Barbara Pepper died of a coronary thrombosis at age 54 on July 18, 1969, in Panorama City, California. [7] She is buried at Hollywood Forever Cemetery in Los Angeles.[citation needed]

Selected filmography


  1. ^ Ellenberger, Allan R. (2001). Celebrities in Los Angeles Cemeteries: A Directory. McFarland. p. 144. ISBN 9780786450190. Retrieved April 27, 2017.
  2. ^ "New York, New York Birth Index: 1910-1965 [database on-line] (CERTIFICATE #29526). Lehi, UT, USA: Ancestry Library Edition, Operations Inc". Retrieved April 10, 2018.
  3. ^ a b "Barbara Pepper". Turner Classic Movies. TCM Archive Materials: WarnerMedia. Retrieved March 11, 2019.
  4. ^ Johnson, Erskine (April 29, 1967). "A Colorful and Tragic Real Life". The Kingston Daily Freeman. New York, Kingston. p. 25. Retrieved April 26, 2017 – via open access
  5. ^ Kara Kovalchik (August 25, 2018). "20 Things You Might Not Have Known About I Love Lucy". Mental Floss. Retrieved August 27, 2022.
  6. ^ albanymuskrat (November 17, 2018). "A Glamour Girl and Her Pig". The Friends of Albany History. Retrieved August 27, 2022.
  7. ^ Ed Gross (August 27, 2020). "Whatever Happened to the Cast of 'Green Acres'?". Closer Weekly. Retrieved September 25, 2020.