Mary Jackson: 'Waltons' actress

kept Milford close


December 14, 2005

Mary Jackson  

Milford native Mary Jackson, an actress best known for playing whiskey-making Miss Emily Baldwin on TV's "The Waltons," died Saturday at her home in Hollywood. She was 95 years old.

Ms. Jackson graduated from Milford High School in 1927 and attended Western Michigan University, where she studied drama and literature and graduated with a bachelor's degree in 1933. She taught briefly before deciding to leave the area and pursue her first love, theater.

Ms. Jackson worked in summer stock and on Broadway as well as in stage productions in Chicago and Los Angeles before her TV and movie career began in the early 1950s.

She appeared in stage productions of "Kiss and Tell" from 1943 to 1945, "Eastward in Eden" in 1947 and "The Trial of the Catonsville Nine" in 1970. She also worked on the West Coast with such notable actors as Shirley Booth in "Desk Set" in 1956 and Jack Lemmon and Walter Matthau in "Juno and the Peacock" in 1973.

"The Waltons" had a successful run from 1972 to 1981 on CBS. The show dealt with the life and times of a family living in Virginia's Blue Ridge Mountains during the Great Depression.

Ms. Jackson's character, Emily Baldwin, was one of two sisters who lived together and made bootleg whiskey they referred to as, "the recipe." Whenever visitors stopped by, the sisters would invite them to sample the latest batch while they anxiously awaited their reaction.

Ms. Jackson's career spanned several decades. She made many guest appearances in TV shows from "Alfred Hitchcock Presents" in the early 1950s to "Hill Street Blues" and "L.A. Law" in the late '80s. She played Jane Fonda's mother in 1977's "Fun with Dick and Jane," a nun in the first "Airport" movie and dozens of other character roles. She lived in Hollywood for more than 40 years and was a member of the Screen Actors Guild and the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences.

Throughout her career, however, she never lost touch with her birthplace in Milford, where she regularly returned to visit. A charter member of the Milford Historical Society, Ms. Jackson was instrumental in 1988 in raising money to rebuild the Oak Grove Cemetery Bridge over the Huron River -- a bridge that connected the Village of Milford to its oldest burial grounds.

Though she suffered from Parkinson's disease in her later years, Ms. Jackson continued to work regularly on film projects until a stroke in 1997 made speech more difficult.

She is not survived by any immediate family.

Visitation will be 2-9 p.m. Friday at Lynch & Sons Funeral Home, 404 E. Liberty, Milford. Funeral services will be 11 a.m. Saturday at the funeral home. Burial will follow in Oak Grove Cemetery in Milford.

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