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Maxine Gates Unland; Retired Actress, Comedienne

August 02, 1990

Maxine Gates Unland, a roly-poly comedienne who appeared in vaudeville and in dozens of films, has died in Panorama City. She was 73.

She died Friday of complications from respiratory problems, said her daughter, Binnie Smith.

A native of Hebron, Neb., she used her large size to create a comic character that carried her through a 35-year career in nightclubs, vaudeville and films. She used her maiden name of Maxine Gates, but was often billed as "250 Pounds of Pep and Personality."

Her films include "The Babe Ruth Story" (1948), "Giant" (1956) and "Flap" (1970). She also appeared on "The Red Skelton Show," "The Jack Benny Show" and "The Lucille Ball Show," and acted in some Three Stooges shorts.

In later life, she owned and operated a self-storage business in Van Nuys. She also had an alligator named Oscar that lived in the back yard of her North Hollywood home.

She is survived by her daughter, Binnie Smith of Granada Hills; a sister, La Vieve Forbes of Volcano, Hawaii; three grandchildren and two great-grandsons.

A memorial service is scheduled for 7:30 p.m. Friday at the Crawford Mortuary chapel, 8717 Tampa Ave. in Northridge, which is handling the arrangements. Donations can be made in Mrs. Unland's name to the Shriners Hospital for Crippled Children in Los Angeles.

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