The Ghost and Mr. Chicken co-star Joan Staley, who also appeared on the TV shows 77 Sunset Strip, The Dick Van Dyke Show, and a McHale’s Navy spinoff, has passed away. She was 79.
At Valencia, California’s Henry Mayo Newhall Hospital, Staley passed away on Sunday from heart failure, according to her relatives.
Elvis Presley’s character Charlie Rogers’ ex-girlfriend Marge, played by Staley in the 1964 movie Roustabout, gets to slap him across the face in the movie.
In the 2001 book Fantasy Femmes of Sixties Cinema by Tom Lisanti, she said, “I asked him if he wanted me to pull up.” “He replied, “No.” Are you sure? I questioned. I might leave a mark. That’s OK, he retorted. I then beat him. That was the actual smack; the one you hear in the movie wasn’t added later.
Additionally, Staley starred alongside Robert Mitchum in Cape Fear in 1962 and Paul Newman in A New Kind of Love, both of which had notable scenes with her as a stewardess (1963).
The Ghost and Mr. Chicken (1966), a parody of haunted home movies that was a great box office success for Universal, starred Staley as Alma Parker, the damsel in distress and Knotts’ love interest. Staley claimed that the brunette wig was left over from a Claudia Cardinale film.
She also appeared as a kidnapped bar singer in Gunpoint (1966) and as Shame’s (Cliff Robertson) evil sidekick Okie Annie in Batman. However, Staley’s career was cut short that year because she fractured her back while horseback riding.
Joan Lynette McConchie was born in Minneapolis on May 20, 1940, the daughter of missionaries. As a youngster in Los Angeles, she pursued violin study and performed with the Junior Symphony at the Hollywood Bowl as well as on a fire truck in Billy Wilder’s 1948 film The Emperor Waltz, starring Bing Crosby and Joan Fontaine.
Her father was a chaplain in the military, so she grew up as a “Army brat,” travelling the world with her family and eventually settling in Paris for her senior year of high school.
Having married TV director Charles Staley at the age of 16, she relocated to Memphis where she worked as a backing singer for Sun Records before returning to Los Angeles to take part in productions at the Music Box Theatre in Hollywood. She made an appearance on a Perry Mason episode in 1958, and she was Playboy’s Playmate of the Month for November.
Staley signed a deal with MGM after appearing in the opening credits of Vincent Minnelli’s 1960 film Bells Are Ringing as a woman in an answering service ad. She also appeared in Valley of the Dragons and was one of the gorgeous women in Jerry Lewis’ 1961 films The Ladies Man and The Ladies Man.
Staley played a movie star in the 1961 Dick Van Dyke Show episode “Jealousy!” in which Laura (Mary Tyler Moore) believes her husband and the celebrity are having an affair. She also appeared in 77 Sunset Strip’s final season (1963–1964) as Hannah, Stuart Bailey’s assistant (Efrem Zimbalist Jr.).
In a 1964 interview, she claimed, “I’ve made a profession of playing an undulating blonde in tight clothes. Although producers believe you portray a brassy sexpot image when you are, well, blonde and shapely, I didn’t want that look.
On the McHale’s Navy spinoff Broadside, Staley played Roberta “Honey-Hips” Love, a machinist’s mate and former stripper who joined the U.S. Navy during World War II. After the 1964–1965 season, it was discontinued.
Along with appearing on other shows like Hawaiian Eye, The Untouchables, The Tab Hunter Show, The Lawless Years, The Ozzie and Harriet Show, Mission: Impossible, and Adam-12, she co-starred with singer Vic Damone in the 1962 summer replacement series The Lively Ones.
The talent firm International Ventures Inc. was run by Staley and her second husband, MCA executive Dale Sheets, until this year, when daughter Dina Sheets-Roth took over the day-to-day operations. Clients included Tennessee Ernie Ford, Bob Barker, and Mel Tormé.
Her children Linda, Victoria, Patricia, Sherrye, Stephanie, and Greg, as well as her husband and Dina, are also still alive, as are her ten grandkids and twenty-six great-grandchildren. There will be a memorial service.
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