Mitzi Hoag, a prolific character actress who was a frequent fixture on classic TV with recurring roles on The Facts of Life and Here Come the Brides, has died. Hoag passed away on February 26 at her home in California at age 86, according to The Hollywood Reporter.
In the late 1960s, Mitzi Hoag played schoolteacher Miss Essie on ABC’s Here Come the Brides, and she went on to co-star with Paul Sorvino on We’ll Get By, a short-lived sitcom created by Alan Alda in 1975. Hoag was also a familiar face on several Michael Landon-produced shows, including Bonanza, Little House on the Prairie, Highway to Heaven, and Father Murphy.
But Mitzi Hoag may be best remembered by many for her role as Evie Green, the adoptive mother of Mindy Cohn’s character, Natalie Green, on the long-running NBC sitcom The Facts of Life in the 1980s. Hoag’s guest role is especially memorable because The Facts of Life was one of the first television sitcoms to deal with an adoption that wasn’t related to the death of parents, a la Family Affair or Diff’rent Strokes. In one Facts of Life episode, Cohn’s Natalie Green even searched for and met her biological mother.
Mitzi Hoag appeared in a heartbreaking 1984 Facts of Life episode about the sudden death of Natalie’s father, and her character, Evie, was later stunned when her strong-minded daughter announced she didn’t want to go to college after graduating from Eastland, the boarding school featured on the show.
The death of Mitzi Hoag comes just seven months after the death of Mindy Cohn’s other TV “mom,” Charlotte Rae. Rae, who played Eastland housemother Edna Garrett on The Facts of Life, died in August at age 92.
Before embarking on a TV career, Mitzi Hoag studied at the famed Actors Studio, then starred in an off-Broadway production of James Forsyth’s Heloise. She later appeared in several films, including Peter Fonda’s The Trip (1967) before landing a TV role as Steve McGarrett’s (Jack Lord) secretary, May, on the pilot episode of Hawaii Five-O in 1968. Hoag also appeared on several episodes of The Partridge Family in various roles, as well as many other shows of the era, including The Rockford Files, Archie Bunker’s Place, The Rookies, and Barnaby Jones.
In an interview for Gangway, Lords: The Here Come the Brides Book, Mitzi Hoag revealed she even auditioned for the role of Olivia Walton on The Waltons, the role that ultimately went to Michael Learned.
“I wasn’t right for the show,” Hoag said. “I read for the mom.”
Hoag’s last acting credit came in 1993 on an episode of Grace Under Fire, per IMDB.
Mitzi Hoag is survived by her husband of 47 years, Jonathan Beggs, her daughter, Abbie, and two grandsons.
You can see Mitzi Hoag in The Facts of Life episode, “Bus Stop,” below.