I will not let him become his father's son.
Gloria was a devoted, domineering mother, who was ridiculously strict with Orson. Gloria had uptight values, and as a Catholic, was very devoted to God. Gloria also had no problem with lying, she had Orson circumcised at age 5, telling his father that she was going to buy him ice cream.Gloria was also involved in a unloving relationship with Edwin, who was an alcoholic and was often depressed. Edwin had an affair, which caused a scandal at the family's local church, and their marriage hit a rocky patch. One evening, Gloria left to visit a sick friend and told Orson to look after Edwin and to make sure he doesn't do anything irrational. Orson, being a teenager, ignores her orders and goes to a party. Gloria, knowing this, returns home and murders Edwin, ending her unhappy marriage, all the while staging the murder as suicide. She blames Orson, and sends him to a mental hospital - where he later spends most of his late-teen years.
When Orson was an adult, Gloria set him up with a woman called Alma Hodge. However, Orson did not feel for Alma the way she did for him, and only agreed to marry her when she became pregnant with his child. Soon after, Alma miscarried, and Orson stayed with her for her and Gloria's sake. Orson soon had an affair with a flight attendant called Monique. Alma discovered the affair and confronted Orson, who told her that he had never been more happy, resulting in Alma's disappearance.
Orson later visits Monique only to find that Gloria had hit her over the head with a wrench and killed her. Gloria killed her when discovering Orson has been having an affair with Monique - her justification being that Orson had committed a sin, causing her to do such a dreadful act. Orson confronts his mother who tells him it was self defense because she attacked her. Orson helped Gloria bury the body and when Gloria starts pulling out her teeth so she can't be found due to dental records, Orson is disgusted and he pushes his mother who falls into a dug-out resulting in a broken hip. Orson sends her to a nursing home, selling her house and car.
Bree Van de Kamp, Orson's new wife, arrives at the nursing home to give Gloria a Christmas card. She is confused when she discovers that Gloria is not senile, as Orson told her, and invites her to live with her family. Gloria soon comes to stay and Orson informs her he's sold her house and all of her things. Unbeknowest to Orson, Gloria has kept in contact with Alma over the past year, and discovering Orson's new wife, she requests for Alma to return. Everyone's speculation of Orson murdering Alma is proven wrong when she turns up alive and well. Orson and Bree are not pleased when Alma buys a house just down the street.Gloria and Alma soon try to find a way to get Alma to seduce Orson. They succeed, with Gloria phoning Orson and telling him Alma committed suicide while leaving a suicide note. He arrives at the house, where he finds Alma laid on a bed. However, Gloria gives him a spiked drink which renders him unconscious, but is also dossed with an erectile dysunction pill. He is surprised when Alma sits up and apologies to Orson as Gloria leaves. Alma then has sex with Orson as he is unconscious, and both of them fall asleep. Bree than discovers them in bed together. At first she thinks Orson's cheating, but she discovers Alma drugged him. She punches Alma in the face and takes Orson home. When Orson discovers what they did he tells Alma and Gloria that no matter what they threaten to do, he is always going to be with Bree. Alma just says they should give in. However, Gloria locks Alma in an attic and leaves to plot. While Orson is at the hospital following a fall from a tall building, Gloria places an unconscious Bree into a bathtub and plans to make it look like she committed suicide. Andrew comes to rescue her, but Gloria hits him with her cane and he tumbles down the stairs. As Gloria is about to slit Bree's wrists, Orson runs in and discovers Gloria had done this before, and that it was she who had killed his father. Orson tackles Gloria to the ground and rescues Bree. Gloria then suffers a stroke. Orson later discovers Alma's body outside her house after she fell from the roof trying to escape and warn someone about Gloria's plans. Orson places Gloria, who is now paralyzed, next to Alma's body and places the bag of Monique's teeth and Alma's suicide note next to them, making it look as if Alma had committed Monique's murder, when in fact it was Gloria.
Ida Greenberg discovers them in the morning and it is wrongly concluded Alma was the killer of Monique and that after Gloria had seen Alma dead she suffered a stroke, and is now completely paralyzed. Orson later visits Gloria at the hospital and points her head to the door saying she can watch him walk away because it's the last time she'll ever see him, leaving her sad she didn't do things differently.
Gloria is seen in a flashback, when the show recaps on events that happened in Season 2 and 3, instructing Orson to run over Mike.
Gloria is briefly mentioned when Bree and Orson are talking about Bree's dislike for her new in-laws. Bree references to Gloria's stroke which occured off-screen: "At least Gloria had a good taste to have a paralyzing stroke so we don't have to deal with her", to which Orson replies, "True, that was a merry Christmas."
Visibly, Gloria is a weak, frail old woman. But underneath, Gloria is a scheming villainous woman with an awful temper and a deep religious ethic.
I usually don't say this to expectant mothers, but for God sake, have a scotch!
—Gloria, I Remember That
He broke her heart! And all for his precious Monique.
—Gloria, Beautiful Girls
Behind Closed Doors
- Originally, Orson Hodge was designed as a villain. However, Marc Cherry et al liked working with Kyle MacLachlan so much that they kept him around as a good guy and let Dixie Carter's Gloria go down as a villainess in his place.