Actress Bridget Hanley, best known for her role as Candy Pruitt on the late ’60s classic TV western Here Come the Brides, and co-starred with Barbara Eden on the 1981 to 1982 TV version of Harper Valley PTA, died on December 15, 2021, at the age of 80.
She was born Bridget Ann Elizabeth Hanley on February 3, 1941, in Minneapolis, Minnesota. When she was 4-years-old, her family moved to Edmonds, Washington and she would graduate from Edmonds High School. From there, Bridget studied drama for two years at San Francisco College for Women, switching over to the University of Washington and graduating with honors and a B.A. in drama. She went on to appear in 17 stage productions. Screen Gems signed her to a contract in 1966.
First a Guest Star, Then a ‘Bride’
Bridget ended up guest-starring on a number of TV shows, among them Gidget, Bewitched, I Dream of Jeannie, The Flying Nun, The Rookies (which starred Kate Jackson), Welcome Back, Kotter, Emergency! and How the West Was Won. Her greatest claim to fame came from Here Come the Brides, which aired between 1968 and 1969 for a total of 52 episodes. The series was set in 1960s Seattle and had the premise that marriageable women were being imported from east coast U.S. cities where the results of the Civil War left many towns short of men.
In an interview with the Fort Lauderdale News in September 1968, Bridget enthused, “I was dying to play the role, because I come from that ‘country.’ After I saw the script, I wanted the role all the more, because Candy and I are about the same age.”
She nearly didn’t get the part and had to plead with the head of Screen Gems at the time, former Little Rascals star Jackie Cooper, who recognized she was right for the role. As she would later tell The Journal of Meriden Connecticut, “You have to be able to make things happen. This [the business] is one big pressure-cooker and it’s up to the actor to initiate the action.”
Following Here Come the Brides, Bridget made further guest-starring appearances, spent a great of time performing on stage, and, as noted, co-starred in 30 episodes of Harper Valley, PTA, playing Wanda Reilly Taylor.
In her personal life, she was married to E.W. Swackhamer from 1966 until his death in 1994, and together they had two daughters. At the time of her death, she had been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease.