Gladys Ormphby was a frumpy spinster who originated on Rowan & Martin's Laugh-In in 1968, and was one of the few characters to remain on the series for its entire five-year run. The character's frumpy attire and stooping posture were first used by Ruth Buzzi in a stage production of Auntie Mame as Agnes Gooch, but the traits were refined and retooled for Laugh-In.
The dour, hair-netted Gladys was perpetually found seated on a park bench, where she was generally harassed by dirty old man Tyrone (Arte Johnson). Gladys staunchly defended herself by pounding him with her pocket book. When Johnson left the series, shortly after an aborted wedding between the pair, Gladys developed an increasingly desperate dream life, creating fantasy romances between herself and historical figures. Both Gladys and Tyrone resurfaced as animated characters on the 1977 Saturday morning series Baggy Pants and the Nit-Wits.
On Sesame Street
In the 1990s, when Ruth Buzzi was a regular on Sesame Street as Ruthie, Gladys made a few guest appearances. In one sketch, seated on her park bench as usual, she is approached by Cookie Monster who begs for cookies. Gladys sharply insists that she has zero cookies, so Cookie Monster eats her pocket book instead. Still unsatiated, Cookie Monster hungers after her sweater and hairnet, and is puzzled when she runs away. (First: Episode 3705) Gladys also appeared in the celebrity version of "A New Way to Walk." In a 1993 episode, Gladys appears as "the Grouch Princess," complete with a magical pocket book.
Outside of Laugh-In and Sesame Street, Gladys has also surfaced in such diverse venues as ads for Canada Dry ginger ale, the Dean Martin celebrity roast for Frank Sinatra, and the 1996 "Weird Al" Yankovic music video "Gump," making a cameo appearance on her favorite perch, the park bench.