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Versatile Character Actress Virginia Gregg Dies at 70

September 17, 1986

Virginia Gregg, the versatile character actress who was equally at home in radio, television and motion pictures, is dead at the age of 70.

She died of lung cancer Monday in Encino Hospital, a family spokesman said.

Miss Gregg, who got her start in show business as a musician, then switched to radio drama in its early days, was heard in hundreds of roles. She made her first motion picture appearance in 1947 in "Body and Soul," playing the sultry sculptress-roommate of star Lilli Palmer.

She made at least 47 other movies, including "Journey to Nowhere," "Spencer's Mountain" and "I'll Cry Tomorrow." She also was the chilling off-screen voice of the mummified mother in all three "Psycho" motion pictures.

The late actor-producer Jack Webb, who used her frequently in supporting roles, first in the radio series "Dragnet" and later in the television and motion picture versions of the police drama, once said of her: "Virginia is the actress' actress."

In radio, she was a regular on "One Man's Family," among the most popular serial dramas of the 1930s and '40s, and performed on "The Jack Benny Show," "Lux Radio Theater," "Lum and Abner" and "Sam Spade."

In television, she appeared in "The Waltons," "Streets of San Francisco," "Baretta," "Cannon," "Ironsides," "Happy Days" and many others.

A native of Harrisburg, Ill., she moved to Pasadena with her family as a child. While a student at Pasadena Junior College, she took up the bass viola, later playing with the Pasadena Symphony and with The Singing Strings on early network radio.

She is survived by sons Gregg, Jaime and Ricardo del Valle. The family requests that memorial donations be made to Recording for the Blind Inc., where she made many recordings as a volunteer and served for many years as a member of the board of directors.

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