PASSINGS: Phyllis Avery

Phyllis Avery

Actress on Ray Milland, George Gobel shows

Phyllis Avery, 88, an actress who portrayed the wife of Ray Milland in the early 1950s CBS sitcom originally called “Meet Mr. McNutley,” died Thursday of heart failure at her Los Angeles home, her family said.


When she was cast in 1958 as George Gobel’s TV wife on his variety show, The Times called her “an accomplished actress and a very pretty lass.” She also was a regular on the CBS soap opera “The Clear Horizon” from 1960 to 1962.

She was born in 1922 in New York City to screenwriter Stephen Morehouse Avery and his wife, Evelyn, and grew up in France and Los Angeles.

A graduate of New York’s American Academy of Dramatic Arts, Avery debuted on Broadway in 1937 in “Orchids Preferred.”

In another of her eight Broadway roles, she appeared with actor Don Taylor in an Army Air Forces production of “Winged Victory” and married him in 1944, the year the play closed.

The couple soon moved to Los Angeles and had two daughters before divorcing in 1955. Daughter Avery Taylor Moore is an architect and Anne Taylor Fleming is an author and journalist.

Avery’s several movie roles include the 1956 musical “The Best Things in Life Are Free.”

In the 1960s, she segued into selling real estate but continued to act occasionally well into the 1990s.

Of her second career as a Westside real estate agent, Avery told The Times in 1989: “I had hit the 40-year-old mark, and there wasn’t much going on for actresses past the young, leading-lady stage.”

-- Los Angeles Times staff reports