Verna Bloom, perhaps best known as the debauched wife of Dean Wormer in the 1980 comedy Animal House, died January 9 in Bar Harbor, Maine from complications of dementia. She was 80.
Neglected by her husband, the Dean of Animal House’s factious Faeber College, Bloom’s character sought solace from the leader of the control fraternity that perhaps not-so-coincidentally was taking up so much of her spouse’s time.
Animal House was a rare comedic turn for the actress who mostly worked in dramatic fare. She was featured in three films for director Martin Scorsese – Street Scenes 1970, After Hours (1985) and The Last Temptation of Christ (1988) as Mary the Mother of Jesus and two from Clint Eastwood – High Plains Drifter (1973) and Honkytonk Man (1982). She also had roles in such films as the 1971 elegiac western The Hired Hand and 1985’s The Journey of Natty Gann.
Bloom got her start on the stage, but it was a good word from writer Studs Terkel that landed her her first film role in Haskell Wexler’s 1969 classic Medium Cool. Her work as a young Appalachian mother swept up in the violent protests that surrounded the 1968 Democratic Convention in Chicago earned her the twin Best Lead and Supporting Actress nomination from the National Society of Film Critics.
In addition to her film work, Bloom also appeared on a number of television series over the years including Bonanza, Kojak, Police Story, Lou Grant, Cagney & Lacey and The West Wing.