Hope Summers
Hope Summers in The Andy Griffith Show, 1966
Sarah Hope Summers

(1902-06-07)June 7, 1902
DiedJune 22, 1979(1979-06-22) (aged 77)
Woodland Hills, Los Angeles, California, U.S.
Other namesHope Sommers
Years active1950–1978
Claude James Witherell
(m. 1927; died 1967)

Sarah Hope Summers (June 7, 1902 – June 22, 1979)[citation needed] was an American character actress known for her work on CBS's The Andy Griffith Show and Mayberry RFD, portraying Clara Edwards.

Early life

Hope Summers was born in Mattoon, Illinois, the daughter of the town doctor, and future U.S. Representative, John W. Summers and Jennie (née Burks). She was reared in Illinois and later in Walla Walla, Washington, where her father was elected to the House. Summers attended Northwestern University in Evanston, Illinois, graduating in 1923 from its Northwestern School of Speech. She stayed in Evanston, teaching speech and diction, then moved to Peoria, Illinois in 1926 when she became the head of the Speech Department at Bradley University.[1] While in Peoria, Summers started giving private acting lessons and became involved as a volunteer, and soon a director, in local theatre.[1]

Acting career

Summers was a regional actress, who often performed in one-woman shows starting in the 1930s.[2] In radio she had parts in the anthology Destination Freedom, a series written by Richard Durham, dedicated to the retelling the lives of notable Negros in the Americas.[3] Summers did not break into network television until her mid 50s, when she made her debut in 1951 on the soap opera Hawkins Falls, broadcast from Chicago. While she had a few uncredited background roles in short films, she did not make her first Hollywood feature film until 1957, with a small credited role in Zero Hour!. She continued in films as a character player.

Summers first attracted attention in 1958 in the semi-regular role as Hattie Denton on the western series The Rifleman, starring Chuck Connors. She guest starred on dozens of series including Maverick, Wagon Train, State Trooper, Rescue 8, Peter Gunn, Dennis the Menace, It's a Man's World, Mr. Smith Goes to Washington, Hazel, Gunsmoke, The Danny Thomas Show, M*A*S*H (TV series), My Three Sons, Petticoat Junction, Love on a Rooftop, The Pruitts of Southampton, The Second Hundred Years, Adam-12 and The Paul Lynde Show, and was a regular in the cast of the short-lived 1978 situation comedy Another Day. She made thirty-six appearances on the Andy Griffith Show, playing Aunt Bee's best friend, during the 1960s, and made five appearances on the post-Griffith spinoff, Mayberry R.F.D..

While her film work usually was in quite small parts, often unbilled, but she had a credited part as Mrs. Gilmore, one of the kindlier members of the witches' coven at the heart of Roman Polanski's 1968 film classic, Rosemary's Baby.[4]

For nearly 20 years, from 1961 until her death, Summers was the voice of Mrs. Butterworth in the Mrs. Butterworth's syrup commercials.

Personal life

Summers met local businessman Claude James Witherell in 1926, the year she moved to Peoria to teach; the couple married in 1927 and had two children together.[1]


Year Title Role Notes
1951–1952 Hawkins Falls Belinda Catherwood Unknown episodes
1957 Alfred Hitchcock Presents Mrs. Gillespie's housekeeper Episode: "End of the Indian Summer"
1957 Private Secretary Della Loganbury Episode: "Not Quite Paradise"
1957 Zero Hour! Mrs. Summers
1957 Wagon Train Unnamed passenger Episode: "The Ruth Owens Story"
1958 Gunsmoke Ellen Cade Episode: "Gypsum Hills Feud”
1958 Wagon Train Mae O'Malley Episode: "The Luke O'Malley Story"
1958 I Want to Live! Ethel, Policewoman on bus Uncredited
1958–1960 The Rifleman Hattie Denton 16 episodes
1959 Maverick Martha Abbott Episode: "Brasada Spur"
1959 Rescue 8 Dora Episode: "If the Bough Breaks"
1959 Hound-Dog Man Jewell Crouch
1959 Edge of Eternity Motel Attendant Uncredited
1960 Inherit the Wind Mrs. Krebs - Righteous Townswoman
1961 Parrish Mary Uncredited
1961 Angel Baby Woman at Revival Meeting Uncredited
1961 Homicidal Mrs. Martha Adrims Uncredited
1961 Claudelle Inglish Ernestine Peasley Uncredited
1961 The Children's Hour Agatha (Tilford's maid) Alternative title: The Loudest Whisper
1961–1968 The Andy Griffith Show Clara Edwards 32 episodes
1962 The Couch Mrs. Quimby
1962 Rome Adventure Mrs. St. Uwell Uncredited
Alternative title: Lovers Must Learn
1962 It's a Man's World The Salvation Army Woman Episode: "Drive over to Exeter"
1963 Spencer's Mountain Mother Ida
1964 My Living Doll Edwina Episode: "I'll Leave It to You"
1964 One Man's Way Mrs. Elwood Thompson
1964 Hazel Edna Episode: "Hot Potato a la Hazel"
1965 The Hallelujah Trail Mrs. Hasselrad
1965 Petticoat Junction Mabel Denton Episode: "The Crowded Wedding Ring"
1966 The Ghost and Mr. Chicken Suzanna Blush Uncredited
1966 Penelope Shop Lady Uncredited
1968–1970 Mayberry R.F.D. Clara Edwards 5 episodes
1968 Rosemary's Baby Mrs. Gilmore
1968 The Shakiest Gun in the West Celia
1968 5 Card Stud Female customer in general store Uncredited
1969 The Learning Tree Mrs. Kiner
1970 Marcus Welby, M.D. Mrs. Whittaker Episode: "Epidemic"
1970 Bewitched Carolyn Episode: "Samantha's Old Man"
1971 Hawaii Five-O Minnie Leona Moroney Episode: "The Bomber and Mrs. Moroney"
1972 Get to Know Your Rabbit Mrs. Beeman
1972 Where Does It Hurt? Nurse Throttle
1973 Ace Eli and Rodger of the Skies Laura
1973 M*A*S*H Nurse Meg Cratty Episode: "The Trial of Henry Blake"
1973 Charley Varrick Mess Vesta Alternative title: Kill Charley Varrick
1974 Our Time Biology Teacher Starsky and Hutch
1975 Chico and the Man Lucille Nelson Episode: "Garage Sale"
1975 Welcome Back, Kotter Ms. Riley Episode: "Mr. Kotter, Teacher"
1976 Little House on the Prairie Addie Bjornesen Episode: "The Collection"
1977 Evil Town Alice Wylie
1978 Another Day Olive Gardner Regular cast member (4 episodes)
1978 Foul Play Ethel
1978 Smokey and the Good Time Outlaws Marcie (final film role)


  1. ^ a b c Couri, Dr. Peter J. (2012-03-01). "Hope Summers: Rifles, Pickles & Rosemary's Baby". The Peorian. Retrieved 2020-03-10.
  2. ^ Robertson, Dale; Fernandes, David (1996). The Definitive Andy Griffith Show Reference. McFarland Publishing. ISBN 978-0786401369. Retrieved 2020-03-10.
  3. ^ Dunning, John (1998). On the Air: The Encyclopedia of Old-Time Radio (Revised ed.). New York: Oxford University Press. pp. 196–198. ISBN 978-0195076783. Retrieved 12 June 2020.
  4. ^ Gallagher, Pat (2012-09-04). "Rest in Peace, Cast of The Andy Griffith Show". Huffington Post. Retrieved 2020-03-10.

Further reading