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Noreen M. Corcoran (October 20, 1943 – January 15, 2016) was a former actress and dancer best known for her costarring role in the television sitcom Bachelor Father, as the teenager Kelly Gregg, the niece of wealthy attorney Bentley Gregg, played by John Forsythe.
Corcoran was the third of eight children born in Quincy, Massachusetts, to William "Bill" Corcoran, Sr. (1905–1958), and the former Kathleen McKenney (1917–1972). In 1947, the Corcorans moved to Santa Monica, California, where the father became the maintenance chief at Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer. Her sister, Donna Corcoran, earned a speaking role in the 1951 film Angels in the Outfield.
The Corcoran children studied dramatics or dance as a means to launch potential acting careers. During the 1950s, younger brother Kevin Corcoran gained fame in the role of Moochie on Walt Disney's The Adventures of Spin and Marty with Tim Considine and David Stollery and in the serial Moochie of the Little League on ABC's Walt Disney Presents. Other Corcoran siblings who went into acting were Brian Corcoran, Hugh Corcoran, and Kelly Corcoran (1958–2002). Bill Corcoran, Jr. (died December 2007) became the dean of students at California State University, Fresno. Noreen attended California State University Long Beach, where she studied English and drama from 1962-1964 but did not graduate.
Noreen's screen debut was a small role in the emotional film, Wait 'Til the Sun Shines, Nellie at 20th Century Fox. She was next cast in the MGM musical I Love Melvin in 1953. More roles followed, including the role of "Anna," the girl who was granted another birthday in "Tusitala," a 1955 Four Star Playhouse production starring David Niven as Robert Louis Stevenson; and Band of Angels in 1957 and television appearances in Circus Boy, starring Micky Dolenz, later of the singing group The Monkees. Noreen also had a part in the short-lived series The World of Mr. Sweeney with Charles Ruggles.
In 1957, future U.S. President Ronald W. Reagan, who was working at the same studio on his General Electric Theater on CBS, viewed the screen tests for Bachelor Father and recommended Corcoran to John Forsythe for the part of Kelly. In the show, Kelly (Corcoran) is orphaned at thirteen when her parents are killed in an automobile accident and she is then adopted and raised by her bachelor Uncle Bentley (Forsythe) in well-to-do Beverly Hills, California.
As a popular young actress, Corcoran made the cover of numerous magazines. Slowly before the viewers' eyes, she seemed to grow from a somewhat awkward teenager into a sophisticated young woman. Kelly had enrolled in the same college Bentley attended and was a freshman there during the series final season (1961-1962). In mostly season 1 & 2 story lines, Kelly often acted as an unwelcome matchmaker for her Uncle Bentley.
A year after the completion of Bachelor Father (1963), Corcoran achieved some musical success as her single recording of "Love Kitten" reached #142 in Music Vendor (October 1963).
In 1963, Corcoran played a supporting role in Paul Wendkos' Gidget Goes to Rome and starred in William Witney's The Girls on the Beach, an attempt by Paramount Pictures to compete in the "Beach Party" genre of films, which had been particularly successful for Annette Funicello and Frankie Avalon. The movie featured great performances from the popular singer Leslie Gore, The Beach Boys and The Crickets (after the death of Buddy Holly). Ironically, Corcoran did not sing in the movie.
Corcoran guest-starred in two similar television series, NBC's Mr. Novak with James Franciscus and ABC's Channing with Jason Evers. She guest starred at this time on the ABC drama series, Going My Way, starring Gene Kelly. In 1964, she was cast as Alice Lang in NBC's medical drama about psychiatry, The Eleventh Hour in the episode "You're So Smart, Why Can't You Be Good". Then she appeared in two westerns, CBS's Gunsmoke with James Arness, and ABC's The Big Valley with Barbara Stanwyck. In the latter, she played "Sharon" in a 1965 episode entitled "The Brawlers".
Noreen Corcoran left acting for a private career behind the scenes in theatre arts and dance. In 1966, she began an 11-year association with the Lewitzky Dance Company, which was opened that year by the renowned choreographer Bella Lewitzky. Corcoran retired in 2004. She never married. She maintained contact with her friend and mentor John Forsythe until his death.
Corcoran died at her home in Van Nuys, California from cardiopulmonary disease on January 15, 2016, at the age of 72.
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Noreen M. Corcoran
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Noreen M. Corcoran (born October 20, 1943) is a former actress and dancer best known for her costarring role in the television sitcom Bachelor Father, as the teenager Kelly Gregg, the niece of wealthy attorney Bentley Gregg, played by John Forsythe.
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Retired actress and dancer in Chatsworth, California
William "Bill" Corcoran Sr
Kathleen McKenney Corcoran
Hugh Corcoran, Kevin Corcoran, William Corcoran Jr., Brian Corcoran
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Biography by Bruce Eder [-]
Noreen Corcoran was born in Quincy, MA, in 1943, but soon after, her family moved to Santa Monica, CA, where her father took a job as maintenance chief at one of the studios. It was a few years later that two of her siblings, Kevin Corcoran and Donna Corcoran, began getting extra work in movies, and not long after that Donna earned a speaking role in Angels in the Outfield (1947). Within a few years, all of the Corcoran children were studying dramatics, dance, and anything else that could further their careers -- Kevin became successful as a Disney alumnus during the 1950s, playing Moochie in the Spin and Marty series, and later worked behind the camera as well. Noreen Corcoran made her screen debut in a small role in the movie Wait 'Til the Sun Shines, Nellie at 20th Century Fox, but her real break came when she was pressed into service on the MGM musical I Love Melvin (1953), when her sister Donna was unable to work in two movies at the same time. More movies followed, including Band of Angels (1957), along with appearances on television programs such as Circus Boy (starring Micky Dolenz) and a part in the short-lived series The World of Mr. Sweeney, with Charlie Ruggles. Then, in 1957, with a little help from Ronald Reagan -- who was working at the same studio and happened to see the screen tests for the show, and recommended Corcoran over a rival actress -- she won the starring role in the situation comedy Bachelor Father. For the next five years, Corcoran was practically the archetypal American girl, almost a distaff Beaver Cleaver in the role of Kelly Gregg, the orphaned 13-year-old being raised by her bachelor uncle Bentley Gregg (John Forsythe). In some ways, the program was the precursor to the mid- to late-'60s series Family Affair, deriving much of its humor from the notion of single, man-about-town Bentley and his valet Peter (Sammee Tong) learning to adjust to life with a teenager in their midst. She made the cover of magazines and became a popular young actress of the period, as America watched Corcoran's character grow up from a gregarious, slightly awkward teenager into a poised and sophisticated young woman, with the series ending just as Kelly entered college. Corcoran later played a supporting role in Paul Wendkos' Gidget Goes to Rome (1963) and starred in William Witney's The Girls on the Beach, Paramount's attempt to emulate American International Pictures' "Beach Party" movies, with Corcoran essentially taking the Annette Funicello role. The movie had little to offer beyond some very attractive girls and some great performance clips featuring the Beach Boys and the post-Buddy Holly Crickets, among other acts; the performance scenes, along with the campy dialogue surrounding them, have actually allowed the movie to keep an audience some 40 years hence. Corcoran also played guest-starring roles in such series as Gunsmoke and The Big Valley. She left acting after 1965 to pursue a more private personal life and a career behind the scenes in theater and dance.
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