No matter how discreet she tried to be, fans always recognized Eve Arden by her deep voice. “It was a thing we ran into all the time, even in Europe in small French villages,” recalls Eve’s son Douglas Brooks West to Closer. “Telephone operators would go, ‘Are you Eve Arden? I recognize your voice.’

That’s no surprise. Fans knew Eve from a career that spanned film, Broadway, radio and television. Her spirited starring role in Our Miss Brooks brought her into living rooms every week from 1948 to 1957. Despite her success, Eve tried to maintain a normal family life beyond the bright lights of Hollywood.

In 1954, she and her husband, actor Brooks West, moved their family to a ranch in Thousand Oaks, California, then a small town. “Her number one most important thing in life was to make her family happy,” daughter Liza West tells Closer.

Eve placed a high value on marriage and motherhood because neither had come easily. She adopted Liza during her marriage to Ned Bergen, which ended in 1947. The actress, who’d suffered miscarriages, adopted her second daughter, Connie, as a single mom. “She was one of the first to do that,” notes Douglas.

Eve wed Brooks West in 1952 — and then something wonderful happened. “She still thought she couldn’t have children, so she adopted my brother Duncan. Immediately after, she found out she was pregnant with me. She was 47 years old,” says Douglas.

Thousand Oaks became the perfect place to nest. “I must have been 10 when they bought the ranch,” says Liza. “There were very many happy memories there. We had a vegetable garden that we all worked on. There was horseback riding and lots of animals.”

Eve Arden sits in chair and poses in a lace-neck top with necklaces
John Springer Collection/CORBIS/Corbis via Getty Images

The couple liked to entertain showbiz friends at their ranch too. Douglas recalls weekend visits from Betty White and Allen Ludden, Pat Boone (who gave him a horse!) and Sean Connery. “He came out to the top of our hill and said the view reminded him of the hill overlooking his grandfather’s farm in Scotland,” Douglas recalls.

Eve and Brooks loved to travel so much that they moved their entire family to Europe for two years. “It was just wonderful because we got to learn how to speak Italian when we were in Italy,” says Liza, who attended college in Switzerland. “My sister went to an art school and the boys went to school in London. We got together for Easter in Rome.” When school broke for summer, the family toured Portugal and Spain, then made the Atlantic crossing back to New York together.

Eve continued to accept acting jobs into her golden years. She played the part of Grease’s Principal McGee in 1978 and returned for the film’s sequel a few years later. Her happy marriage to Brooks also endured until his death in 1984.

Douglas, who followed his parents into the business as a producer and writer, introduced his mom to her first biological grandchild before her passing in 1990. “That baby in her arms, my first daughter, was a blood connection,” says Douglas. “For most of her life, she never thought that could be possible. It was a wonderful miracle for all of us.”