Born in Salinas, California in 1890, the film, radio, and television actor Verna Arline Felton practically grew up in the theater, singing and dancing on stage from a young age and discovered by a roadshow company who recognized her talent and offered her a job performing to large crowds. By the year 1900 when Felton was ten years old, she was already being listed in newspaper ads as “Little Verna Felton, Child Wonder” among the performers. Throughout that decade she performed across the United States and Canada, and by 1910 she was a leading lady in plays.

After radio was introduced, Felton dominated that medium as well, often playing mothers and authoritative figures alongside other radio stars like Red Skelton, Jack Benny and the comedy duo Abbott and Costello.

Verna Felton had been acting in movies since the Silent Era, but she didn’t start working in films consistently until the 1940s when she first started being in demand as a character actor in Hollywood all the way until the 1960s. She worked for most of the major film studios at various points playing supporting characters in films starring Spencer Tracy, Bing Crosby, Gregory Peck and Marilyn Monroe, and she even starred in a couple of Oscar nominated films, The Gunfighter (1950) and the Best Picture-nominated Picnic (1955), although of all her films, the animated characters she voiced for Disney are by far her most famous roles. Disney characters Felton voiced include Mrs. Jumbo and the elephant matriarch from Dumbo (1941), the kind-hearted Fairy Godmother from Cinderella (1950), the black-hearted Queen of Hearts (“OFF WITH HER HEAD!!!”) from Alice in Wonderland (1951), Aunt Sarah from Lady and the Tramp (1955), Flora from Sleeping Beauty (1959) and Mrs. Hathi from The Jungle Book (1967).

Felton was also recognizable for her television roles, first appearing in The Amos ‘n’ Andy Show in 1951, followed by starring roles in The Dennis Day Show, Where’s Raymond?, December Bride and the December Bride spin-off series Pete and Gladys, as well as making guest appearances in shows like The George Burns and Gracie Allen Show, I Love Lucy, The Jack Benny Program and The Flintstones in which she voiced Fred Flintstone’s disapproving mother-in-law Pearl Slaghoople.

Verna Felton worked until the year 1966 when she died at the age of 76.