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March 22, 2023

Uncovering the Life and Legacy of Beth Howland: The Unsung Actress of TV’s Golden Age

The world of showbiz is full of talented individuals who make their mark in different ways. While some shine bright and become household names, others remain behind the scenes, quietly contributing to the success of their projects. Beth Howland, an American actress, falls in the latter category. Despite being an integral part of the TV industry in the 1970s and 1980s, Howland never received the recognition she deserved. In this article, we will delve deeper into her life and legacy, shedding light on the remarkable journey of this unsung actress of TV’s golden age.

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Who was Beth Howland?

Beth Howland was an American actress born on May 28, 1941, in Boston, Massachusetts. She started her career in the performing arts in the early 1960s, doing voice-overs and commercials. Her breakthrough came in 1970 when she was cast as the shy and neurotic waitress, Vera Louise Gorman, on the hit sitcom, ‘Alice.’ She portrayed the character for nine seasons, earning a Golden Globe nomination in the process. Howland retired from acting in 1995 and passed away on December 31, 2015, at the age of 74.

Her Life in Television

Beth Howland’s contribution to the world of television is remarkable. Her most prominent role was that of Vera Louise Gorman on ‘Alice.’ Vera was the goofy, good-hearted, and slow-witted waitress who became a fan favorite. Though Howland’s character wasn’t the lead, her deadpan humor and awkwardness often stole the scene. Howland was the only member of the main cast who received no Emmy nominations throughout the show’s run.

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Interestingly, Howland never pursued fame and avoided the limelight. She never gave interviews and rarely appeared on red carpets. Her excellent work in ‘Alice’ earned her a loyal fan base that appreciated her talent and presence on the show.

The Legacy of Beth Howland

Beth Howland’s legacy is a testament to her dedication, craft, and contribution to the entertainment industry. To her audience and fellow actors, she was a beloved and respected colleague who had a strong work ethic and a natural talent for acting.

While her role as Vera in ‘Alice’ defined her career, Howland acted in several other shows and movies throughout her life. She also appeared in numerous Broadway productions, including the critically acclaimed ‘Company.’

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Moreover, Howland’s work in ‘Alice’ made an impact that is still felt to this day. Her portrayal of Vera is considered a classic, and she remains a popular actress among fans of the show.

Interesting Facts About Beth Howland

– Howland’s role in ‘Company’ earned her a Tony nomination.
– Howland was married to the playwright Charles Kimbrough, who played Jim Dial on ‘Murphy Brown.’
– The creators of ‘Alice’ intentionally named her character Vera Gorman in honor of the show’s producer, Robert Stigwood, whose mother was named Vera and grandmother was named Gorman.
– Howland had an uncredited role in the iconic movie, ‘The Heartbreak Kid,’ in which she played a waitress.

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Beth Howland’s Impact on the TV industry

Beth Howland’s contribution to the TV industry is vast, and her acting prowess inspired many individuals in the entertainment industry. Her portrayal of Vera Gorman in ‘Alice’ will go down in history as a classic sitcom character.

Furthermore, Howland’s ability to bring humor and depth to her roles made her a top choice for directors and producers. Her work ethic and dedication towards her craft also set a standard for other actors to follow.


1. What was Beth Howland’s most famous role?
Beth Howland’s most famous role was that of Vera Louise Gorman, the timid waitress in the sitcom ‘Alice.’

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2. Did Beth Howland win any awards for her acting?
Howland was nominated for a Golden Globe Award for her performance in ‘Alice,’ but she did not win any awards for her acting.

3. Did Beth Howland appear on any other TV shows besides ‘Alice’?
Yes, Howland appeared in several TV shows like ‘Love Boat,’ ‘Eight Is Enough,’ and ‘The Mary Tyler Moore Show.’

4. Did Beth Howland ever do any work in film?
Yes, Howland had a few movie appearances, including a minor role in the 1972 film ‘The Heartbreak Kid.’

5. What was Beth Howland’s most significant contribution to the entertainment industry?
Howland’s most significant contribution to the entertainment industry was her portrayal of Vera Gorman in ‘Alice,’ which became an iconic character in TV history.

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6. What was Beth Howland’s net worth when she passed away?
Beth Howland’s net worth was estimated to be $25 million at the time of her passing.

7. When did Beth Howland pass away, and how old was she?
Beth Howland passed away on December 31, 2015, at the age of 74.


Beth Howland was a talented actress who contributed to the world of television through her work in ‘Alice’ and several other productions. While she never received the accolades she deserved, her legacy lives on, inspiring and entertaining audiences across generations. Howland’s commitment to her craft and humble attitude in life and work serve as an inspiration to many aspiring actors. Beth Howland has left behind an irreplaceable mark on the TV industry, and her memory will remain in the hearts of her fans forever.

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