Norma Varden; Played Variety of Characters


Norma Varden, a character actress who was seen in such diverse entertainment vehicles as “Hamlet” on stage and the mother on “The Jack Benny Show” on television, died Thursday in a Santa Barbara hospital.

Richard Lamparski, author of the “Whatever Became Of. . . .?” series of books on former actors, said she was 90.

Tall and English, Miss Varden was a serious stage actress when she came to the United States in 1929 for a Broadway role that never materialized.


She returned to England in the early 1930s and worked in such films as “East Meets West,” “The Student’s Romance,” “The Iron Duke,” “Fire Over England” and more.

Her film experience in her homeland led to offers from Hollywood, where she played in “Random Harvest,” “The White Cliffs of Dover,” “National Velvet,” “Casablanca,” in which she was the woman whose husband’s pocket was picked, “The Sound of Music,” in which she was the housekeeper, “Witness for the Prosecution,” the murder victim, and “Gentlemen Prefer Blondes.”

She had been living in Santa Barbara since 1969, Lamparski said.