Monday, April 20, 2020

Whatever happened to Sue Randall (Miss Landers on "Leave it to Beaver")?


Do you remember Miss Landers, Beaver's elementary school teacher on Leaver it to Beaver?  Oh yes, Miss Landers had a first name.  It was Alice . . . Alice Landers.  The late Sue Randall portrayed Miss Landers in 28 episodes of the show, from 1958 until 1962.

Sue Randall was born Marion Burnside Randall in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania on October 8, 1935.  Her father was a well-known real estate consultant.  At the age of ten, Sue began acting on stage in a production of Dear Ruth by the Alden Park Players, a theatre group based in the historic Germantown area of Philadelphia.  In 1953, she finished her early education at the Lankenau School for girls in Germantown.  Then it was on to New York, where she graduated with honours from the prestigious American Academy of Dramatic Arts.
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In the mid-1950s, Sue launched a television career that included appearances on Playhouse 90 (1957), General Electric Theater (1959) and Kraft Suspense Theater (1965).  Sue's primary roles were on television rather than the silver screen.  Her only feature film appearance was as Ruthie Saylor, a reference desk librarian in Desk Set (1957), starring Katharine Hepburn and Spencer Tracy.

In 1959, Sue Randall guest-starred in two episodes of the hit television crime drama 77 Sunset Strip, starring Efrem Zimbalist Jr. and Roger Smith.  She appeared in "Hit and Run"" (Season 1, Episode 13, Air Date January 2, 1959)  and 'Strange Girl in Town "(Season 1, Episode 34), Air Date (May 29, 1959.  Sue was also a guest star in a 1960 episode, "The Affairs of Adam Gallante" (Season 3, Episode 13, Air Date: December 9, 1960), in which she portrayed Alice Smith Gallante, a newlywed who life is threatened after her new husband disappears.

In 1959 and again in 1964, Sue appeared in episodes of Rod Serlings's The Twilight Zone.  The 1959 episode is entitled "And When the Sky Was Opened" (Season 1, Episode 11, Air Date: December 11, 1959.  Sue played a nurse in this episode is about three astronauts who return to Earth after an encounter that apparently dooms them.

Below is a photo of Sue Randall and Jim Hutton in the 1959 episode of The Twilight Zone entitled "And When he Sky was Opened."


Sue guest-starred in a 1964 episode of The Twilight Zone entitled "From Agnes - With Love" (Season 5, Episode 20, Air Date: February 14, 1964).  Wally Cox starred as James Elwood in this episode about a shy computer technician (Cox) who listens to a meddling supercomputer named "Agnes" for advice on his love life.  Sue played Millie, Elwood's co-worker who finally agrees to go on a date with him.

Below is a photo of Sue as Millie in "Fom Agnes - With Love" with Wally Cox (right)/


Sue Randall is best remembered for her portrayal of Miss Landers, an elementary school teacher at Grant Avenue Grammar School on Leave it to Beaver.  Alice Landers was sympathetic and understanding, everything an ideal teacher should be.  She was just about perfect.  She even had the patience to put up with the shenanigans of Beaver and his friend, Larry Mondello.(Robert "Rusty" Stevens).

Miss Landers first appeared during the second season of Leave it to Beaver in an episode entitled "Ward's Problem" (Season 2, Episode 3, Air Date: October 16, 1958).  She replaced Miss Canfield (Diane Brewster) as Beaver's teacher.  Miss Canfield had only been seen in four episodes of the show's first season.

Sue Randall and Jerry Mathers

Leave it to Beaver didn't reveal much about Alice Landners' personal life except for one memorable 1960 episode entitled "Miss Landers Fiance" (Season 4, Episode 7, Air Date November 12, 1960).  In the episode Beaver Cleaver is upset when he learns that Miss Landers is engaged to a man named Tom Brittingham, played by Jack Powers.  Beaver sees his teacher dressed in her  tennis outfit when her fiance arrives at her home to pick her up.  He is  heartbroken because he has crush on Miss Landers.

Below is a picture of Beaver raking the leaves at Miss Landers' house as he sees favourite teacher and her fiance on their way to play tennis.


Sue's final appearance on Leave it to Beaver was in an episode called "Nobody Loves Me" (Season 5, Episode 20, Air Date: February 17, 1962).  In the episode, Beaver finds himself at an awkward age when he thinks he's ugly and feels rejected.

During the 1960s, Sue Randall guest-starred in a number of other popular television series such as Sea Hunt (1961), Pete and Gladys (1962), Dr. Kildare (1963), Ripcord (1963). Perry Mason (1960, 1964), My Favorite Martian (1965), The Fugitive (1963, 1964, 1965), I Spy (1965) and The F.B.I. (1965).

Sue appeared in a 1961 episode of Surfside 6, a drama about three hip private detectives living and working out of a houseboat in Miami, Florida (Hmmm . . . Sounds like an earlier version of Mod Squad).  Sue had role in an episode of the series entitled "Spinout at Sebring" (Season 1, Episode 32, Air Date: May 8, 1961).

Below is a 1961 Surfside 6 press photo with Sue Randall, and heartthrob Troy Donahue at the wheel. of the car.  Donahue was a cast member of Surfside 6.  He played Sandy Winfield II in 47 of the show's 74 episodes, but he was not one of the three hip private detectives.


Sue also appeared in many episodes of TV Westerns such as The Rifleman (1960), The Life and Legend of Wyatt Earp (1960), Have Gun - Will Travel (1959, 1960), (Gunsmoke (1960, 1961), Bonanza (1961, 1965), The Virginian (1965) and six episodes of Death Valley Days (1959, 1962, 1963, 1964, 1964, 1966).

Below is a photo of Sue Randall in a one of her Western roles, a 1959 episode of The Rifleman entitled "The Mind Reader" (Season 1, Episode 40, Air Date: June 30, 1959).


Sue Randall never became a big TV star and she never played a lead role in a television series.  In the late 1950s, she was set to co-star with Theodora Davitt in a proposed sitcom called Up on Cloud Nine, about the wacky misadventure of two flight attendants.  A pilot for the show was filmed, but no potential sponsor came forward to buy or underwrite the series.

Sue retired from TV acting at a young age in 1967.  She was only in her early 30s at the time. Sue's last credit is an appearance on an episode of Vacation Playhouse, a summer replacement show that featured pilot projects that had not been sold.  She played Ruth in an episode entitled "Heaven Help Us" (Season 5, Episode 4, Air Date August 14, 1967), about a woman who returns from the dead to help her widowed husband find an appropriate new wife.

Sue eventually returned to Philadelphia and took a position as an administrator for professional associations.  She was actively involved in several charitable benefits such as the Multiple Sclerosis Telethon, Joey Bishop's Telethon for Handicapped Children, and the Arthritis Fund.


Sue Randall was a heavy smoker.  In the 1960s, she appeared in a TV commercial for Newport cigarettes.  To watch the commercial on YouTube, click on the link below.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QGeTmaMyM6U

Sadly, Sue was diagnosed with lung and larynx cancer in 1982.  She was given treatments and her larynx was removed.  She passed away on October 26, 1984 at Pennsylvania Hospital in her hometown of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.  At the time of he death, she was 49 years old.  In agreement with her wishes, Sue's body was donated to the Humanity Gifts Registry in Philadelphia for medical science research  She had lived in Philadelphia for several years, working with community groups until her illness compelled her to retire.

END NOTES

* Sue Randall was married twice. In 1957, she wed Peter Blake Powell.  The couple had two sons, Blake and Kenneth, but the marriage ended in divorce.  Sue's second husband was James J. McSparron with whom she remained until her death in 1984.

* Sue Randall was a liberal Democrat her whole life.  She actively lent her support to a number of charitable organizations and social welfare programs.

* Diane Brewster, who portrayed Miss Canfield, died of heart failure on November 12, 1991.  She was 60 years old at the time of her passing.  It is interesting to note that from 1983 until 1988, Diane reprised  her role as Miss Canfield in five episodes of The New Leave it to Beaver (originally titled Still the Beaver).

Diane Brewster as Miss Canfiedl

* Character actress Doris Packer,played Mrs. Cornelia Rayburn, the principal of Grant Avenue Grammar School on Leave it to Beaver.  She died on March 31, 1979 at the the age of 74.  Doris appeared in 17 episodes of the series From 1957 to 1963,

Doris Packer

SOURCES:  Tyrone Daily Herald, "Miss Landers, 49, Of  'Leave it to Beaver' Dies Of Cancer, by United Press International (UPI), October, 1984; Wikipedia; Internet Movie Database (IMDb.com); Find A Grave website



- Joanne

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