‘Happy Days’ Star Beatrice Colen Was the Granddaughter of a Famous Playwright

by Joe Rutland
(Photo Courtesy Getty Images)

Family lineage in the world of entertainment is not unusual. For instance, take a Happy Days star whose grandfather was a playwright.

It happened for Beatrice Colen, who played carhop Marsha Simms in some of the sitcom’s early seasons, had playwright George S. Kaufman in her family. She was his granddaughter. We’ll get more about this in a minute from an article on MeTV.

Besides Happy Days, Colen also appeared on shows like Wonder Woman, The Odd Couple, Barney Miller, The Wonder Years, and Baywatch. We sadly note that Colen died from lung cancer in 1999 at 51 years old.

‘Happy Days’ Star’s Grandfather Did Not Like Being Called That Name At All

Let’s get to a bit about Colen and Kaufman. See, Kaufman co-wrote The Man Who Came to Dinner and won a Tony Award in 1951 for directing Guys and Dolls. But there is a little stiffness, shall we say, when it comes to Kaufman being called Grandfather at all.

The Happy Days star says in a 1976 interview that Kaufman “insisted I call him George because ‘Grandfather’ made him feel old. What did she call him? George, but not Grandfather.

Well, there was that one time. Colen talks about it in the same interview.

“I never saw him outdoors but once — on the sidewalk in carpet slippers,” Colen says. “I was so surprised I blurted out, ‘Grandfather!’ Then I became so frightened at having called him that, I ran away without hearing what he said.”

That did not appear to be a pleasant time. While Colen distanced herself from Kaufman, she would head toward Hollywood and an acting career that did include Happy Days.

Actress Did Not Live To See Her Son Appear In Grandfather’s Most Famous Play

As we said, Colen died at 51 years old. She was diagnosed with Hodgkin’s disease at 18 years old but was cured by radiation treatment. It is believed, though, that it caused her to get lung cancer.

Doctors did tell her and her husband, Patrick Cronin, that having kids was out of the realm of possibility. They ended up having two sons. A son would become involved in acting because he was interested in a girl. Makes sense. It was not because he was going to follow his mother’s own path, though.

In an ironic twist of fate, the son would have a leading role in her grandfather’s The Man Who Came to Dinner.

At this time, Colen knew that her health was not good and could see that the Happy Days star would not make it to her son’s opening night. Colen, though, did push her son to perform.

Well, his opening night was on the same day that Beatrice Colen died.