Gloria McMillan, ‘Our Miss Brooks’ Actress, Dies at 88

by Amanda Glover

Actress Gloria McMillan passed away peacefully in her sleep on Wednesday (1/19) at 88-years-old.

McMillan died at her home in Huntington Beach, California. In November 2021, doctors diagnosed the actress with a cancerous tumor in her bile duct. “She was, indeed, a beautiful, talented, and loving person,” Ron Cocking, her husband of 35 years told The Hollywood Reporter.

She began her career as a child singer and tap dancer on the radio. After her family moved to Los Angeles, her career in stardom began.

Her mother wrote a letter to famed actor, Edward G. Robinson, praising her daughter. After that, he hired a young McMillan for a Christmas radio program.

In the 1948 comedy film, “Our Miss Brooks,” McMillan played the sweet schoolgirl and principal’s daughter, Harriet Conklin. However, she played the character on television in 1952, on the big screen, and the radio.

Acting alongside Eve Arden, the actress discussed her former coworker in an interview.

“She was my mentor, teacher, and surrogate mother for so many years taught me how to not use any [salty] language, not to back-talk her, just to become a professional actress. Eve even took me to a play. She was very, very good to me,” said Gloria McMillan.

The late actress acted on the radio in live dramas for “The Lux Radio Theatre.” She also acted on the radio on “Mayor of the Town.” Before that started, producers hired the actress at age 13 for CBS Radio’s “Our Miss Brooks.” The movie ended up being a big hit from the start.

After “Our Miss Brooks,” Gloria McMillan appeared on a 1966 episode of NBC’s “Dr. Kildare.” However, in the 1975 satire, she also played a judge in the Barbara Feldon beauty pageant satire, “Smile.” In the late 1970s, she starred in the NBC miniseries “Centennial.” As her final acting credit, she starred on a 1990 installment of ABC’s “Perfect Strangers.”

Gloria McMillan Taught Acting and Dancing to Children

From 1974 to 2018, Gloria McMillan found the time to teach acting and tap dancing to kids in San Bernardino, California. Although, I wonder how the kids felt about having a big-time movie star to show them the ropes.

The studio grew with 12 other professional-level teachers. They worked to teach over 600 students enrolled in acting, ballet, tap, jazz, vocal, musical theater, and “kinder-theater.” The studio’s seating fit for 70 as well as five studios for dance classes.

With her background in the arts, maybe McMillan taught her own children a thing or two. Considering the time she spent making magic on her feet, her children might’ve had the same desire.

Gloria McMillan is survived by her and her husband’s children, Janet, Jonathan, Christopher, Kelly, and Barbara. Christopher grew up to become a producer of live stage events and theatrical productions. However, the couple’s family continued to grow with their nine grandchildren and three great-grandchildren.