Natural actressDena Dietrich

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An actress, Dietrich may be another of those where you think, “I don’t know that name, but the face is familiar…”. She studied acting in New York with many who would go on to stardom: Anne Bancroft, Colleen Dewhurst, Grace Kelly, and Jason Robards. She mainly appeared on the stage, starting in 1965 as the understudy for Lillian Roth for a year during the tour of Funny Girl. That led to her Broadway debut in 1968: Here’s Where I Belong was a musical adaptation of East of Eden, but it was a flop; it opened and closed on the same night. But getting cast in a 1971 TV commercial changed her career forever. (See video below.)

Dietrich doing her thing as Mother Nature, and still grinning in 2005.

Once that aired nationally, Hollywood came calling: “They were curious to see what that broad looks like,” she laughed, “what was the story behind her?” Because the, well, nature of the ad made it an instant hit: she played “Mother Nature” for Chiffon margarine, which she mistook for “my sweet, creamy butter.” When the announcer says Chiffon is so buttery “it even fooled you, Mother Nature,” she would bellow the line that made her famous: “It’s not nice to fool Mother Nature!” as lightning smote the cheeky chap. Dietrich played the role for a decade (the brand was retired in 2002). Her career well established, she appeared on two soap operas, as well as Mod Squad, Adam’s Rib, Karen, The Practice, The Ropers, The Golden Girls, Murphy Brown, King of the Hill, NYPD Blue, and the wonderfully cranky judge on Philly (2001-2002). She also appeared in multiple films, such as The North Avenue Irregulars (1979) and, thanks to her friendship with Anne Bancroft, Mel Brooks’ History of the World: Part I (1981). Dietrich died from “natural causes” in Los Angeles on November 21. She was 91.

From This is True for 22 November 2020