John L. Goldwater, the orphan from East Harlem created the Archie comic, though writer Vic Bloom and artist Bob Montana realized the concept, and Dan DeCarlo later developed Archie's official house style, still in use. When the original team created Riverdale High's two most enduring staff, Miss Grundy and Mr. Weatherbee, they took their names from existing sources.
Mrs. Grundy appears-- or fails to appear-- in Thomas Morton's 1798 play, Speed the Plough. Although permanently off-stage, frequent references to her make it clear she represents ultra-traditional, prudish morality; a Dame Ashfield wonders aloud what Mrs. Grundy might think of various situations. By the early nineteenth century, Mrs. Grundy had entered the language to denote any defender of traditional morality, particularly one who was puritanical to the point of self-parody. The phrase, "What would Mrs. Grundy think?" came to carry the same general meaning in real life as it did in Speed the Plough, even among those who were unfamiliar with Morton's play.
The expression remained in vogue into the twentieth century, when the unseen Mrs. Grundy of stage was eclipsed by an unmarried namesake in a funnybook
Miss Geraldine Grundy first appeared in Jackpot Comics #4, in 1941, and therefore ranks among the earliest Archie comics characters. She is the archetypal spinster schoolmarm, stern yet fair and, like her namesake, conservative in her views and wardrobe. She has taught a variety of subjects, but appears to specialize in English and History. While she has never married, romantic interests have occasionally been suggested; the objects of her affection have ranged from Mr. Weatherbee to the Punisher. In 1948, Archie and Forsythe "Jughead" Jones set up an escort service (of the sort which merely provides an escort), and are shocked when a client identified as "Peaches" turns out to be their lonely, single teacher.
She has appeared in nearly every Archie incarnation, from comics to radio, from tv cartoons to tv shows. Jane Webb provided her voice (and every other female's) in the late 1960s/early 1970s Archie cartoons, while Linda Sorenson took the role in the late 1980s. Fran Ryan played her in 1990's disastrous To Riverdale and Back Again.
In some of the many Archie-verses, she has died. We witness her funeral in a hypothetical future depicted in the 2010s Life with Archie (The Married Life) series, and she turns zombie in the grotesque 2013-2014 adult spin-off, Afterlife with Archie.
The popularity of Riverdale's spinster school marm now far exceeds that of her priggish predecessor. In 1997, Diane Penrod entitled a collection of essays on education Miss Grundy Doesn't Teach Here Anymore.
A 1956 episode of I Love Lucy guest-starred Elsa Lancaster (of Bride of Frankenstein fame) as an eccentric woman known only as Mrs. Grundy; a connection to either, more famous character seems tenuous, at best.