Character actress Norma Varden, whose lengthy stage, television and film career included such roles as comedian Jack Benny's mother and the housekeeper in "The Sound of Music," has died at age 90 in Santa Barbara, Calif.

Miss Varden died Thursday of heart failure at Cottage Hospital's coronary care unit, nurse Kathy Polischuk said Saturday. She had moved to this coastal city 90 miles northwest of Los Angeles in 1969.She began making movies in the early 1930s in her native England. Among her English films were "East Meets West," "The Student's Romance," "The Iron Duke" and "Fire Over England."

The movies led to offers from Hollywood, where she appeared in some of the biggest hit movies of the time.

Among her credits were "Random Harvest," "The White Cliffs of Dover," "National Velvet" and "Gentlemen Prefer Blondes."