Monday, September 7, 2020

Seven Things to Know About Karen Valentine

Karen Valentine in 1995
(photo by J.M. Smith)
1. A California resident, Karen Valentine competed in the 1964 Miss Teenage America pageant. She won the talent competition with "a pantomime take-off of a bossa nova song" (according to Life Magazine). Her performance caught the attention of Ed Sullivan, who invited her to appear on his weekly variety show.

2. In 1969, Karen landed her most famous role, as young energetic high school teacher Alice Johnson in Room 222. The following year, she earned an Emmy Award for Outstanding Performance by an Actress in a Supporting Role in a Comedy. She was nominated a second time in 1971 and remained with the show throughout its five-year run.

As Alice Johnson in Room 222.
3. In a 2013 interview with Mark Voger, Karen Valentine said about Room 222: "It was the first show, I think, that showed blacks and whites interacting so well together, and role models in teachers and counselors. It was so well accepted that in certain parts of the country, Room 222 was required viewing by some of the teachers and principals and administrative staffs around different schools."

4. Following the cancellation of Room 222, Karen Valentine got her own TV series in 1975. In Karen, she played a single, independent woman working for Open America, a citizens' advocate organization. Charles Lane co-starred as the organization's curmudgeonly founder (replacing Denver Pyle, who played the role in the pilot). Despite being co-created by Larry Gelbert (M*A*S*H), Karen was cancelled at mid-season.

5. Karen Valentine remained in high demand throughout the 1970s and 1980s. Her unsold television pilots include: A Girl's Life (1983) with Fred Dryer as her boyfriend and Joan Hackett as her mom; Adam's House (1983), in which she played a Chicago social worker; and a proposed 1980 series based on The Goodbye Girl.

6. Karen also appeared in a number of made-for-TV movies, most notably: the title role in Gidget Grows Up (1969); one of  Buddy Edsen's "daughters" in The Daughters of Joshua Cabe (1972); a stewardess with multiple husbands in different cities in Coffee, Tea or Me? (1973); and a "birthday present" for Richard Long in The Girl Who Came Gift Wrapped (1974). Her last movie/TV acting credit is the 2004 Hallmark Channel movie Wedding Daze, with John Larroquette.

7. Karen Valentine was married to Carl MacLaughlin, Jr. for almost four years. His profession is sometimes listed as actor, though his only credit in the IMDb is an appearance with Karen on a Merv Griffin Show about celebrity married couples. Since 1977, Karen has been wed to musician Gary Verna. He won an Daytime Creative Arts Emmy for an original song he co-wrote for The Young and the Restless.


  1. Interesting stuff. A very appealing actress.

  2. I also like her on Hollywood Squares which she appeared
    on quite frequently.

  3. She's done a lot of stage work, too, hasn't she?

  4. She had such a great presence in "Room 222"! Would love to see more of her today.

  5. She is a very underrated talent. Always great on TV.

  6. Her & Sally Field would've made a good "sister" team in a tv show.

  7. I had a big crush on her back in the day when I was a teenager!!