Marion Burnside Randall (October 8, 1935 – October 26, 1984), who acted under the name Sue Randall, was an American actress best known for her role as the kindly Miss Alice Landers, Theodore "Beaver" Cleaver's elementary school teacher in the CBS and ABC sitcom Leave It to Beaver.
Early life and education
Born in Philadelphia and the daughter of a prominent real-estate consultant, Sue Randall began acting on stage at the age of ten in a production of the Alden Park Players. In 1953 she completed her early education at the Lankenau School for Girls in the historic Germantown District of Philadelphia and then moved to New York, where she attended the American Academy of Dramatic Arts, graduating from that prestigious institution with honors.
Film and television career
Randall's credited TV debut came in the 1955 episode "Golden Victory" of the series Star Tonight. She was one of the actresses who had the role of Diane Emerson in the television version of Valiant Lady (1953-1957). In 1954, she also portrayed a character named Diane Emerson on the CBS drama Woman with a Past.
Randall appeared in several other television productions before performing as the character Ruthie Saylor, a reference-desk worker, in the 1957 film Desk Set starring Spencer Tracy and Katharine Hepburn. Randall's reoccurring role as a teacher on Leave It to Beaver spanned the years 1958 to 1962, when the actress was in her twenties. She appeared in twenty-eight episodes of the popular sitcom after replacing Diane Brewster, who played "Miss Canfield" both during the first season and in the 1980s television movies based on the series. Randall's first appearance as Miss Landers was in the Leave It to Beaver episode "Ward's Problem", which originally aired on October 16, 1958.
Primarily, Randall's roles on television were as a featured actor or supporting character, often in westerns. For example, she was cast as Kathy O'Hara, an aspiring concert pianist, in the episode "The Mysterious Stranger" (February 17, 1959) on the ABC/Warner Brothers series Sugarfoot, with Will Hutchins in the title role. She was cast too in the ABC series The Rebel as Elaine, the daughter of a man sentenced to hang; but Nick Adams, the star, saves him. That episode is titled "Judgment Day" and was first broadcast on October 11, 1959.
In the late 1950s, however, television-series producers did cast Randall as a co-star with actress Theodora Davitt in a proposed weekly sitcom titled Up on Cloud Nine. A pilot for this comedy was completed, but no potential sponsors opted to buy or underwrite the series about "the daffy misadventures" of two airline stewardesses. In the pilot episode's storyline, described by one later reviewer as "painfully unfunny", Randall and Davitt's characters insult passengers and frighten them while in flight by mistakenly preparing their plane for a crash landing.
Sue Randall appeared in many other series, including CBS's The Twilight Zone, Have Gun – Will Travel, Gunsmoke, The Aquanauts, Pete and Gladys, and Hennesey, NBC's Bonanza and The Man and the Challenge, and ABC's The Real McCoys, The Dakotas, 77 Sunset Strip, The Fugitive, and The Rifleman. In addition, she made three guest appearances on Sea Hunt with Lloyd Bridges in 1961. That same year she also guest starred as Ellen, with Adolphe Menjou as Fitch and Orson Bean as her husband John Monroe, in the episode "The Secret Life of James Thurber", based on the works of the American humorist James Thurber, in the CBS anthology series The DuPont Show with June Allyson. She made two guest appearances as well on Perry Mason, both times as the defendant: Betty Wilkins in the 1960 episode, "The Case of the Ill-Fated Faker," and Arnell Stiller, alias Amy Scott, in the 1964 episode, "The Case of the Garrulous Go-Between".
Randall appeared also in five episodes of the long-running, syndicated western anthology Death Valley Days. Her last performance in that series was in 1966, when she was cast as Carrie Huntington in the episode "The Courtship of Carrie Huntington," set in the future Washington State. In the storyline Jesse Pearson plays Henry Windsor, who is hired to take Carrie to her sister's wedding after she misses the stagecoach. Henry and Carrie engage in a mock wedding, but on the return trip Henry wins her over after they are held by Indians and Carrie nurses a sick child to health. Helen Kleeb played Carrie's mother, and Dub Taylor was cast in a cameo role as a station agent.
Later years and death
Randall retired from her television acting career at an early age. Her last credited television performance did, in fact, occur in 1967. She played the part of "Ruth" in an episode of Vacation Playhouse, a summer replacement series that showcased a variety of unsold pilots. Two years after her work on Vacation Playhouse, Randall returned to her hometown of Philadelphia, where she became involved with a variety of professional associations and participated in telethons and other charitable events to raise money to support programs and research battling arthritis, multiple sclerosis, blindness, and poor childhood education.
A heavy smoker, Randall died of lung cancer on October 26, 1984, at Pennsylvania Hospital in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, aged 49.