Tony-Nominated Star Katherine Helmond Dies at 89
Helmond gained fame as Jessica Tate, the ditzy matriarch on Soap, for which she received four Best Actress Emmy Award nominations. She was a lead player on the controversial ABC series from 1977 until it was canceled in 1981. In 1984 she took the role of "Mona Robinson" on the ABC sitcom Who's the Boss?, for which she earned two Supporting Actress Emmy nominations. In 1993 she appeared in one episode of the British version of Who's the Boss?, The Upper Hand.
The actress appeared in four Broadway shows, earning a Best Supporting or Featured Actress Tony nomination for playing Margaret in the 1972 revival of Eugene O'Neill's The Great God Brown. Her other Broadway credits include the revivals of Private Lives (1969), Don Juan (1972) and 1993's Mixed Emotions. Helmond also appeared Off Broadway in 1999's The Vagina Monologues.
Helmond had many well-known recurring roles on television, including Doris Sherman on ABC's Coach (1995-97) and Debra Barone's mother Lois Whelan on the CBS hit series Everybody Loves Raymond (1996-2004). More recently, she had guest-starring roles on A&E's The Glades, as well as the role of Caroline Bellefleur on HBO's True Blood.
Helmond also voiced Lizzie, the Radiator Springs original who was married to the town's founder and runs its curio shop in all three Disney/Pixar Cars movies. Her otther film credits include Alfred Hitchcock's last film Family Plot, Garry Marshall's Overboard, Terry Gilliam's Time Bandits, Brazil and Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas.
Helmond was born July 5, 1929, in Galveston, TX, and developed a love of theater early on. She appeared in numerous school plays before making her stage debut in Shakespeare's As You Like It in 1955. She would spend seven years performing at the renowned Hartford Stage Company in Hartford, CT, and Trinity Repertory Theater in Providence, RI. After winning the Drama Critics Award for her Off Broadway performance in the Pulitzer Prize-winning play The House of Blue Leaves by John Guare, Helmond followed the production to Los Angeles, where she was eventually discovered by talent scouts and landed her first television role guest-starring in an episode of Gunsmoke.
She married set designer David Christian in 1962 and remained married until her death.
A memorial service is being planned for family and friends to celebrate her life and career.
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