McMillan & Wife, Fun With Dick and Jane Actress


Gloria Stroock, who played Rock Hudson’s secretary on McMillan & Wife and appeared in films including Fun With Dick and Jane, The Competition and The Day of the Locust, has died. She was 99.

Stroock died May 5 of natural causes in Tucson, Arizona, her daughter, Kate Stern, told The Hollywood Reporter.

Stroock was married to Emmy-winning writer-producer Leonard B. Stern (Abbott and Costello in the Foreign Legion, The Phil Silvers Show, The Honeymooners, Get Smart and much more) from 1956 until his death in 2011 at age 87.

Her late younger sister was Geraldine Brooks, a Tony nominee and Warner Bros. contract player (Cry Wolf, Embraceable You).

Stroock recurred as Maggie, the secretary of Hudson’s San Francisco police commissioner Stewart McMillan, on the final three seasons (1974-77) of McMillan & Wife, the NBC series created by her husband.

She portrayed the wife of Richard Dysart’s art director in John Schlesinger’s The Day of the Locust (1975), starring Donald Sutherland and Karen Black; the wife of Ed McMahon’s embezzling boss in Ted Kotcheff’s Fun With Dick and Jane (1977), starring George Segal and Jane Fonda; and the mother of Richard Dreyfuss’ struggling pianist in Joel Oliansky’s The Competition (1980).

Gloria Jane Stroock was born in Manhattan on July 10, 1924. Her father, Jimmie, owned the Brooks Costume and Uniform Co., then the foremost maker of theatrical costumes in New York. Her mother, Bianca, designed modern clothes for the stage. Thus, she and her sister went to Broadway openings, the Ziegfeld Follies and the circus all the time.

While attending Camp Fernwood in Poland, Maine, Stroock she wrote a song that campers still sing today, her family noted.

She made it to Broadway in 1945, appearing in Oh, Brother and as Meg in a revival of Little Women; worked on such TV anthology shows as Kraft Theater, Starlight Theater and Studio One; modeled for Look and Life magazines; and sat for portraits painted by renowned artist Eugene Speicher.

She came to Los Angeles after marrying Stern in a ceremony at the St. Regis Hotel in New York. (Phil Silvers was an usher in their wedding party.)

Stroock played Rose Kennedy in the 1977 ABC telefilm Young Joe, the Forgotten Kennedy and also showed up on episodes of Mama, Martin Kane, The Snoop Sisters, Baretta, Operation Petticoat and Archie Bunker’s Place and in Kotcheff’s 1983 film Uncommon Valor.

As a member of Theatre 40 in Beverly Hills, she starred in Driving Miss Daisy and other plays for 35 years. Her memoir, Cast of Characters, was published when she was 93, and she had a solo exhibition of her sculpting work at 95.

Gloria Stroock

Courtesy of Kate Stern

“An elegant, gracious and radiant woman, Gloria disliked freeways and bad grammar, never met a bar of dark chocolate she didn’t love and had an uncanny memory for song lyrics,” her family wrote.

“When asked in her mid-90s to what she owed her longevity, she said, ‘I wake up every day singing and go to bed the same way, and that puts me in a good mood for the day and gives me pleasant dreams at night.’”

She died at the home of her son, Emmy-nominated film editor Michael Stern (The X-Files, Angel, Orange Is the New Black).

In addition to her son and daughter, survivors include her daughter-in-law, Laura; grandchildren Ryan and Dylan; and great-grandchildren Gabriella, Jackson, Grayson, Noir and J.J.

Brooks, 15 months younger than Stroock, died in 1977 at age 51 of a heart attack while undergoing treatment for cancer. She was married to Emmy-winning screenwriter-producer Herb Sargent (co-creator of “Weekend Update” on Saturday Night Live) and novelist and Oscar-winning screenwriter Budd Schulberg.



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